A Chill in the Air…

smallpentThe Magick is in You. Always.

 

Today is Thanksgiving Day, and in a few hours I will be going with my partner to have dinner with his family. Thanksgiving was never a religious holiday for me, although in the past some have tried to make it so. I am thankful for the special people and the good things in my life, and for the many ways the Universe inspires me. But, I am thankful for those things every day, not just on one designated holiday. I return to work tomorrow while others are out shopping during the craziness of “Black Friday”. I expect tomorrow will be slow at work.

It is getting much colder here now, and we’ve just had our first snow flurries of the year. The Great-Horned owls have returned to the oak trees behind our home. I hear them calling to each other in the darkness, quite loud, as though they were sitting on the windowsill. I didn’t hear them at all until a few years ago when I started doing rituals to invite the presence of the Owl more fully into my life. Since then, they have come back every Fall and stay through the Winter. I have a special owl-shaped candle on my altar, and I invite the presence of Owl along with my other deities and spirit guides whenever I do my private rituals.

fromthecauldronI am studying an amazing book by Kristoffer Hughes, “From The Cauldron Born: Exploring the Magic of Welsh Legend and Lore”. In this book, he shares from his personal experience with the Welsh Goddess Cerridwen. As some of you may know, Cerridwen is the deity figure I have been working with for years now, and she has been a powerful guiding force in my life. Everything I find in this book resonates so deeply with my own personal experience. I will copy much of it into my Book of Shadows.

 

 

I have started work on Walking a Magick Path. It will be a combination of the wisdom I have gained from my own personal journey, celtic lore, meditations, spells and other magickal information. Now that it’s getting dark earlier, I am so tired after work, so my writing has been sporadic, but I hope to have this work completed and ready to publish by the end of Spring 2014.

I was recently asked to speak at a local community college about Wicca and Witchcraft. It was a great experience, and the students had a genuine curiousity about my magickal path. They asked lots of great questions and the atmosphere was very positive and receptive. Who knew that I would be talking to college students about spells and witchcraft? I do hope to have more opportunities like this in the future. It is very important to educate the public about who witches are and what we believe.

I bought a new bow-tie. A Gryffindor bow-tie, to be exact. I found it at Hot Topic and I HAD to buy it immediately. I think I look like a waiter.

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My latest batch of candles are finished and are now available for sale (individually) at my Etsy store. I will be making more candles, soaps and other magickal items through the Winter, so keep checking my Etsy store for new items.

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Yule will be here soon, and we will start decorating not long from now. I have downloaded some Yuletide/Winter music from iTunes and am getting into a festive mood. If you’re looking for some wintry holiday music, I really enjoy the Celtic Christmas CD’s from Windham Hill. There are several volumes, and most of them are instrumental. Beautiful celtic winter songs, some in English, some in Gaelic.

Til next time…

Coven Witch or Solitary Witch?

Both have their own rewards and disadvantages. Some prefer one over the other. I have been both over the years, and I recommend any practicing Witch to experience both, if possible. What is the difference between the two?

covenA coven is a specific group of witches who meet on a regular basis, to celebrate the sabbats (the eight pagan/wiccan holidays that occur during seasonal shifts, solstices and equinoxes), and the full moons. They may gather to cast spells for healing and prosperity for the community. They may plan events for the public. Some covens follow a specific tradition (and there are many), others are more informal and eclectic. There are different kinds of covens: training covens, healing covens, etc. Some have strict rules for membership, others do not. Some do not seek out new members, preferring to grow organically from within. Some covens serve as clergy for a larger community. One advantage of working with a coven is that you have the opportunity to interact with the same group of witches on a regular basis. They become like a family and a support system. You learn first-hand about group dynamics, various personality types, and how everyone incorporates magick into their own lives. You learn much about each other, and about yourself in the process. When a group of witches gather together to raise energy for a common goal, it can be a powerful experience. Ritual planning becomes a beautifully creative process, with everyone in the coven contributing ideas to help make it as meaningful as possible. Some people prefer to work with a group rather than practicing alone. It is important to recognize that it isn’t something you do because you think being in a coven might be “fun”. I can tell you there are times when it is not fun. Sometimes there are personality conflicts and disagreements, and these can be very difficult to deal with. Sometimes difficult choices have to be made, and they are not always pleasant.

I was in a coven a few years ago where the High Priestess was making everyone miserable, and caused a huge amount of drama. Fun? Hardly. Also, if you are in a coven that is acting as clergy, you have a huge responsibility that must be taken seriously. It is your duty to be a facilitator of healing and restoration for those who sincerely seek it. Another thing I’ve noticed is that it seems that the larger a coven gets, the more out of control it becomes. Smaller covens are best, in my humble opinion, when everyone can share responsibilities. The traditional number is 13, but that is not set in stone. It can be more than 13 or as few as 3 members. I am grateful to be in a coven now where we are all of like mind and focused on the same goals. Another thing to remember is that being in a coven doesn’t mean you can’t also practice privately. You don’t have to do everything with the group. You can still do your own private rituals at home in addition to the coven gatherings.

OFFERINGA solitary witch usually practices alone. He/she may attend public pagan/wiccan events from time to time, but does not belong to a coven. There are advantages to this. Your practice is entirely your own, and is not under the scrutiny of others. You don’t have to deal with anyone else but your own deities and spirit guides, and you prefer it that way. Some people just don’t do well in groups, and that’s perfectly okay. One big advantage of being solitary is that you learn to rely solely on your own inner instincts rather than someone’s instruction. Solitary witches have more time to spend in Nature, forging deep connections to the elements, and recognizing that quiet inner voice. No deadlines, no planning meetings, no awkward moments with people: it’s just you, your god/desses and the Moon. For some witches, this is ideal, but for others, it can feel isolating. Many witches and pagans who live in rural areas have no choice other than solitary, because they may be the only witches/pagans where they live. A solitary practice can be rewarding, but it has drawbacks as well. By not interacting with others, you are missing out on the community experience. The wisdom shared by other witches, the powerful experience of raising energy and working magick with a group, making new friends, that sense of belonging, and knowing that you’re not alone on this path, there are many others like you. Working with a group of witches can give you a feeling of validation and stability that you might not feel as a solitary. Or, it may be that you feel perfectly whole and complete as a solitary witch.

If you have the opportunity to become part of a coven or group, I say take it. If you find it’s not for you, you don’t have to stay in it forever. Covens aren’t for everyone. Solitary isn’t for everyone, either. I am fine with both.

If you can’t find a coven in your area that is accepting new members, you can always start your own. For more info about how to do this, I recommend the following books:

Wicca Covens: How To Start and Organize Your Own, by Judy Harrow

Coven Craft: Witchcraft For Three or More, by Amber K

The Witch’s Coven, by Edain McCoy

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No, I’m not referring to Christmas. For me and many others, the “most wonderful time of the year” is the Fall, when the leaves begin to change color, the scents of pumpkin and cinnamon fill the air, acorns are falling from oak trees, and the sound of owls hooting in the night fills us all with a sense of mystery and wonder. This is my favorite time of year, when everywhere you look, there are pumpkins and scarecrows decorating lawns and front porches, cafes and restaurants are selling pumpkin spice lattes and all manner of other fall treats. I love it. If it stayed this way year-round, I would be perfectly happy. Dark and cloudy skies, with a bit of wind and rain is what some of our friends affectionately call “Potter Weather”. To me, it is the kind of weather I love best.

We have started decorating our home, this year we have some new items to put out. We have a collection of vintage Halloween decorations that we started buying months ago. This old-world vintage style fits our home décor theme very nicely, and these little things are so creative and magical. These are the only kind of Halloween decorations we buy anymore. Of course, we magickal folk normally refer to this holiday as Samhain, but we enjoy the muggle Halloween as well. Here are some of our new decorations…

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A few weeks ago, we visited Columcille Meglith Park. It is a magickal place, a park rooted in Celtic Spirituality, with standing stones, nature trails and many places to meditate and enjoy the beauty of the natural world. If you’re ever in the Eastern Pennsylvania area, I highly recommend it. Below are a couple of photos from our recent visit.

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As it usually happens this time of year, my personal magickal work turns inward, and I enter a time of introspection. My deities and spirit guides are encouraging me to make a few changes, in the way I present myself to others and in the services I offer to the community. One of these changes is to develop a way to share the magickal tradition I developed (Blackthorn), with a greater number of people. I am looking into setting up some kind of correspondence course for non-local folks to learn the Blackthorn Magickal Tradition for themselves. One can only learn so much via correspondence, it is not the same as working with a teacher in person, so I’m still working out the logistics of this process. It may be that only 1st Degree can be via correspondence and those who wish to become a 2nd and 3rd Degree Blackthorn Witch will have to meet with me in person from time to time. In the coming weeks, I will be developing a website specifically for Blackthorn.

My musical tastes seem to shift in the Fall as well. There are some artists I listen to year-round, such as Llewellyn and Juliana, (as I have such a strong connection to their music), but in the Fall I start listening to music with a somewhat ‘darker’ tone. Artists like Autumn’s Grey Solace and Tearwave have a mystical, melancholic sound that I really enjoy, and I listen to them more often during the Fall/Winter months. I have purchased much of their music.

AGS

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In just a few days from now, we will return to the Wizarding World, and we’ll be there for four days. We go every October, and it is always a chance for us to “recharge our batteries”, so to speak, and I always return home inspired and renewed. It is a home away from home for us. The expansion to the Wizarding World is due to open in June 2014, and although I’ve seen pics of it’s progress, it will be interesting to see it in person. This will be our 5th visit to the Wizarding World since it opened.

Shortly after we return from our trip, the coven I belong to will host it’s first public event for Samhain. For more info, see the Upcoming Events link at the top!

In November I will begin writing my next book, Walking a Magick Path, which I hope to have ready by Spring 2014.

Til next time…

Lumos & Blessed Be.

Four Keys to Effective Spell Casting

cauldron1 copyWhile it is true that the spell itself can be highly individualized, there are certain components that must be in place if you want your spell to work. The absence of just one of these components can short-circuit your magickal working before it has even started. First of all, what is a Spell?

What witches refer to as a “spell” is a magickal working designed to bring about some sort of change, to bring something into existence that did not exist before, or to remove something that is causing harm. This practice is often referred to as Magick. As Witches, we cast spells not only for ourselves, but also to bring healing to our communities and loved ones, and to help bring solutions to various circumstances we face in day-to-day life. There are many intricacies involved in spell-casting, and I will save that for a future article. For now, I would like to focus on the four main ingredients that are necessary for all successful spellcasters. I will also share a few things that can sabotage your spell. At the end of this article, I have recommended a few excellent books for those who wish to learn more about the art of spell-casting.

Shall we begin?

1. Before you begin your spell, the first thing you must do is alter your consciousness. By using meditative techniques such as controlled-breathing and visualization, you can change your brain wave function until it reaches a state known as “Alpha”. Alpha is a state in which you are relaxed, yet still aware, but in a sort of ’daydream’ state. While in the Alpha state, you are more connected to the unseen realms, and you are better able to both give and receive psychic information. Since your connection to the astral realms is deepened by the Alpha state, it will be easier for you to effect change within those realms. The expression “As Above, So Below” illustrates this connection. Before something can manifest on a physical level (below), it must be first be present on an astral level (above). Your spell is the catalyst that places it there. You can alter your consciousness in other ways, such as drumming, chanting and burning incense.

2. Next, you must have a clear intention for your spell. Know exactly what you want, and focus on that specifically. Visualization will help with this a great deal. If you can visualize, your magick will work better. It is important to focus on the outcome of your spell and not on how it manifests. For example, when I moved to Pennsylvania, I needed a car desperately. We went to several car lots and looked around before buying. My intention was to get a used car that would be primarily for transportation to/from work, and I would apply for a car loan. I was a little concerned because my credit at the time was not that great, and I had been turned down for car loans before. In one lot, we found a purple car that I really liked, it didn’t have many issues to be concerned about, and I decided that’s the one I wanted. During the next week, I cast a spell to get this car and spent many hours visualizing myself behind the wheel, turning on the ignition, driving the car, my hands on the steering wheel, listening to the radio, talking to friends in the car with me, etc. I lived my life as though the car was already mine. It is important to include as many details as you can in your visualizations. Try to involve all of your senses: especially touch, sight, smell and hearing. Make it as real as you can make it in your mind’s eye. When we went to get the car, my loan was approved, and everything I visualized came to pass. Whatever your spell is for, you must be clear in your intention. If you need money to pay the phone bill, and you cast a spell for abundance, you may end up with an abundance of spoons or cockroaches. You cast a spell for abundance, after all, and that is what you got. Magick takes the path of least resistance, and you were not clear in your intention. Abundance and prosperity are not quite the same thing. It would have been better instead to cast your spell for the amount needed to pay the bill, with visualizations of receiving the stamped check or the statement showing the bill has been paid. If you cast a spell to get a new job, but you haven’t decided what kind of job you want, then you will get many offers that may not be to your liking. Clear intention is the key.

3. The next important component of successful spellwork is a strong will. It must be something you really truly want and not having it is unacceptable. If so, then you will be emotionally invested in it. It must be firmly rooted within you that you want this in your life, and you won’t give up until it is. An assertive mindset is like a magnet that draws things to you. Using affirmations is a big help. Saying things like, “I now have all the money and resources I need”….”I am now working at my new job at…”, “Here I am, driving my new car” will help to affect these changes on an astral level. If you believe it, the Universe will conspire to make it so. When you’re ready to cast your spell and you have a clear intention and a strong will, everything goes into high gear.

4. Lastly, you must have an effective means of raising and directing energy. There are many ways to do this. Some write an incantation or chant that they repeat over and over. Some like to dance around the altar in a circle. Others beat a drum and sing, while others like to burn magickal herbs and written spells, releasing them out into the Universe to manifest their goals.

Raising energy in an Alpha state while visualizing the manifested outcome, with a clear intention and a strong will, and then releasing that energy out into the Universe, is the most powerful combination of elements required for effective spellwork. (There are other things that can add energy and power to your spells. See the recommended reading list at the bottom of this article.)

Spell Sabotage

There are things that can wreck your spell, so it is important to keep these in mind.

* Energy was not raised or dispersed properly.

*You really don’t believe it will work.

*Your intention is unclear.

*You’re talking about the spell you cast with other people. Say nothing about your spell with anyone until it has manifested into physical reality. Negativity from others can damage your magickal working, so keep silent about it.

*Your will is passive. The outcome wasn’t really that important to you.

*Lack of real-world follow up.

*Your correspondences (herbs, crystals, moon phase, etc) are scattered. In other words, they have no magickal link to the outcome.

*Mercury Retrograde.

*When you cast your spell, you were pre-occupied, distracted or in a hurry.

*Your spell is violating the free will of another person.

Recommended Reading for Spell-Casters

Energy Essentials For Witches & Spellcasters, by Myo Om

Spellcaster: Seven Ways To Effective Magic, Edited by Elen Hawke & Martin White

The Outer Temple of Witchcraft: Circles, Spells and Rituals, by Christopher Penczak

True Magick, by Amber K

Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic, by Phyllis Curott

Exploring Spellcraft: How To Create and Cast Effective Spells, by Gerina Dunwich

Return to Salem

smallpentLumos, Blessed Be.

We had been to Salem, Massachusetts before, but that was over five years ago. During that first visit, we were walking along one street and I had a déjà vu experience. It seemed like I had been there before. Everything seemed so familiar. I then recalled a memory from childhood, when I was visualizing myself in Salem, Massachusetts, and suddenly realized that everything around me on that Salem street had appeared in that visualization so many years ago. The bank, the houses, the neighborhood, the trees, even the people walking past: I had seen it all before. For a few moments, time stood still. I had a strong sense that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment in time. It was a special occasion for me, not only because of this, but also because we met Laurie Cabot in person. We had just left a movie theatre after seeing a Harry Potter film, and she was walking right beside us. We chatted with her for a few moments, and she allowed us to take a photo with her (which you can see on the Glimpses page).

Since that first visit, some of our friends have moved to Salem. A few work in shops, or have opened their own. I was anxious to return, and a couple of weeks ago, we did. Visiting Salem always feels somewhat like a pilgrimage, making the long journey to this place where Witchcraft was once demonized and condemned, but is now celebrated proudly and openly. Salem itself is relatively small, you probably could see everything in a weekend. There are lots of quaint bed-and-breakfast accommodations located throughout Salem, but try to book as early as you can since these often fill up fast, especially during the Fall months. Many are within walking distance of Salem attractions. There is a parking garage near Pickering Wharf that was only 25 cents an hour! I’m not sure if it’s like that year-round. The town of Danvers (about a 15 minute drive from Salem) has some less-expensive hotels if you can’t find anything compatible with your budget in Salem.

There are many Witchcraft shops, excellent museums and great places for food. Nearby Danvers also has some historical spots connected to the Witch Trials. The shops in Salem are amazing, most carry magickal items made by the shop owners or other Salem witches. Anything you could possibly need for your spells and rituals. If you are a Witch, you probably make a lot of your own magickal items yourself, (or maybe you don’t), and I saw many things that I already make on my own. But, I also found several unique, hard-to-find items. Some people like things that are made by prominent Salem Witches such as Laurie Cabot (Enchanted), Christian Day ( HEX: Old World Witchery), or Gypsy Ravish (Nu Aeon). Other shops to check out are New England Magick, OMEN, Artemisia Botanicals, Magika and Crow Haven Corner.

Other fun, educational spots are the Salem Witch Museum, the House of Seven Gables, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial (see photos below), and the Witch History Museum. These are just a few places to see, there are many more. You can witness a live re-enactment of the Witch Trials, visit wax museums, and for those interested in the paranormal, there are ‘ghost hunts’ and ‘ghost walks’ galore. There are also a few spots for pirate enthusiasts. Salem has become a bit tourist-y, but at the heart of it all is the history and magick of the Witch. No matter how the local government tries to change the image of the town (or so I‘ve heard), Salem will always be about Witchcraft.

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For those interested in Harry Potter, Remember Salem and Wynott’s Wand Shoppe are popular Potter hang-outs. The handsome owner of these wizarding establishments happens to be a friend of mine. (You might even see my books on the shelves, and don’t forget to pick up some Butterbeer to take home!).

The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is a definite must-see. The memorial is built inside an enclosed courtyard, with stone benches around the perimeter that are engraved with names of the accused witches who were hanged in Salem in 1692. The energy at the memorial site is very solemn and melancholic. Each bench includes the name, date and method of execution for each accused witch. The site is intended to be not just a memorial, but a call for tolerance. Most historians believe it very unlikely that any of those who were hanged were real witches, but it is possible that a few of them did practice the magickal arts. The memorial is situated right next to a very old cemetery with tombstones dating back to the 1600’s. Some of them are so old that trees have grown around them, others are barely visible under decades of heavy overgrowth. Many have a ‘skull and crossbones’ emblem on them, very gothic looking.

During our visit to Salem, I was fervently hoping to find some Blackthorn wood, either as a wand, bits of wood or thorns. Noone had them, and when I asked about it, most had no idea what I was talking about. Surely, witches are familiar with Blackthorn? One shop owner told me it was “illegal in the U. S. or else we would have it”. I really don’t think this is true. I see people on Etsy who make wands from Blackthorn wood, or they sell the actual thorns, but I have noticed most of them live in the U. K. where Blackthorn is more prevalent. Many Irish import shops have Shillelaghs ( a sort of staff) made from Blackthorn wood, so I don‘t believe it is “illegal“.

On our last night in Salem (for this trip at least), we went to the tavern at the Hawthorne Hotel to meet with our friends for food, drinks and socializing. It was great to see them again. Many of our friends who live in Salem are those we met through Harry Potter, and have become an extended family to us. They are always encouraging us to move to Salem, and as much as I would love to, it is just not feasible right now. We have so many ties here in Bethlehem PA. And, winters in New England are horrendous at times, with several feet of snow, power outages, etc. Winters can be bad here in Pennsylvania too but it is much worse the farther north one goes. I’m still not used to winter driving where we live now. I also realize that as fun as Salem can be, it is fairly small. I was told that a person doesn’t realize how small Salem is until they are living there, and I can totally see that. When you see the same places every day, I can understand how it might get old after a while. On the other hand, Bethlehem PA can get pretty boring at times, too, but I believe that if our surroundings aren’t stimulating enough for us, then we can make our own fun. If there is “nothing to do“, then you can create something to do. I once heard a phrase, “You’re Not Bored, You’re Just Boring”, and I think there’s an element of truth to that. I think it would be a long time before I became bored with Salem, Massachusetts. I have always fantasized of opening a private school for aspiring witches in Salem, Massachusetts. I have it all figured out in my head, and it would be awesome. Ah, wishful thinking.

Another fun spot in Salem is the “Bewitched” statue. It is a life-sized bronze statue of Samantha Stevens sitting astride her broom, with a crescent moon behind her. The statue was donated to Salem by the TV Land network several years ago.

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For those interested in learning more about the Salem Witch Trials, there is an excellent video available from the History Channel. It is required viewing for all my private students, and you can get it from Amazon at this link. While you’re at it, check out my newly-released tarot/oracle journal, “The Noble Art of Divination: A Journal for Tarot & Oracle Decks”.

Til next time…

The Magickal Music of Llewellyn and Juliana

lanj2When I first discovered the music of New Age artists Llewellyn and Juliana over 10 years ago, I was living in San Francisco. I had walked into a shop that sold decorative items from different countries, including a large assortment of New Age and metaphysical items. While browsing the store, I wandered into a side room and found one of those music displays that allow you to listen to short samples from various CD’s. Among them was Moonlore from Llewellyn and Juliana. I put on the headphones to listen, and was immediately spellbound. From that moment, Moonlore became my most favorite CD of all, and remains so to this day. The entire recording is pure magick. When I heard it for the first time, I felt such an intense connection to this music, and a feeling of kinship. It seemed to have made contact with my inner magickal self. I purchased it that day, and since that time have given several copies as gifts for friends and students. I now own over 30 Llewellyn and Juliana recordings, but Moonlore will always be my favorite. There are many magickal recordings to choose from. Sacred Circles, Moon Spells, Walking With Merlyn and Mysts of Avalon are all wonderful. Celtic Legend and Faerielore are both amazing.

landj1Llewellyn and Juliana have won several awards for their recordings, and have sold over a million albums. Magickal energy certainly flows through all of their music. Both are very talented singers and musicians, and both are healing practitioners. For some special recordings, they worked closely with other healing practitioners to produce music for those who do healing work with Crystals, Aromatherapy, Massage, Color Healing and Reiki. There are a number of Reiki recordings to choose from. Reiki Gold in particular, recently went platinum and is used by Reiki practitioners worldwide. They have also recorded music for those who practice Shiatsu, Pilates and Tai Chi. I personally have used their music in countless public rituals and meditation classes.

A few years ago, they formed their own music label, Paradise Music, which offers selections from other talented artists. Not only music, but various teaching or ’workshop’ CD’s, which helps the listener learn about everything from Auras to Shamanism. (I personally love the Magick workshops by Cassandra Eason).

Digital downloads are available for many selections through Spotify, iTunes and Amazon, but I prefer an actual CD that I can hold in my hand. I enjoy the artwork and printed lyrics, etc. (It seems everything is going digital these days, and yes, it is simpler and faster to just download something, but I guess I’m an bit old-fashioned).

Visit their websites below, and listen to samples of their music, along with the artists on Paradise Music. I’m sure you will find many things you love!

Llewellyn and Juliana

Paradise Music

Magickal Earth

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Catching Up

smallpentLumos, Blessed Be.

 

It’s been a month since I last posted in this blog, but my time has been rather occupied. A few weeks ago, I somehow contracted a skin infection, with some swelling and poison oak on my neck, face and legs. My blood pressure was dangerously high, and I really did not feel well at all. It was quite uncomfortable, requiring three visits to the doctor, time off work, numerous medications, and continous self-Reiki treatments. One of the medications was Prednisone, a steroid. Although effective, it made me feel very strange, and I hope to never use that one again. Thankfully, I am back to normal now, even my labwork all came back normal, cholesterol and everything, which I was a little concerned about. I just turned 49, so health and fitness is more of a priority than it used to be. I’m still a tad overweight, but I’ve been losing pounds slowly, so I’m hoping the changes I’ve made to my eating habits will help me lose even more before the Fall.

My laptop is currently in the shop for repair. I had left it on when I ran to the store, and when I came back the screen was frozen. Nothing was working, so I had to ‘force’ it off. When I turned it back on, the screen would not come back up. I could hear the motors running, but no screen. They called today to tell me they have found the problem, but must order a part, and I will have my laptop back by the weekend. I am currently using my partner’s.

2013cover-indexI have started collecting back issues of The Witches Almanac. These little books are a treasure, filled with interesting articles about Witchcraft, Herbal Lore, Mythology and Folk Magick. In addition, there are spells, poetry, recipes and current moon phase information. Each issue is illustrated throughout with medieval and old world magickal artwork. Many of the older issues are out-of-print (it has been in publication for over 40 years), but I want to try and collect as many of them as possible. Regrettably, I didn’t buy them on a regular basis over the years, mainly because my visits to the bookstore were to look for something else, so I’ve missed quite a few issues.

We have a few trips coming up in the near future. In August, we return to Salem, Massachusetts for a few days. We’ve been there before, but since that time several of our friends have moved there, and new shops have opened that I’ve been very anxious to visit. In September, we go back to Gettysburg, PA for a weekend visit. Gettysburg has become quite a hotspot for ghost-hunters and paranormal investigators. There are many interesting activities to participate in, and one hotel in particular hosts late-night seances that are open to the public.  In October, we make our yearly visit to the Wizarding World. I am anxious to see the progress of the new expansion, due to open in 2014. At some point this year, we want to visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire again, which is incredibly pagan-friendly and always lots of fun.

I did manage to obtain a few Yarrow plants, for meditation and pathworking. One is in our patio garden right now, the other is in the cauldron on my altar. Yarrow has many magickal properties, and I have felt very drawn to it the past couple of years. It is used to increase psychic abilities, instill courage, strengthen the aura and many other things. I will be using it as much as I can, either as a live plant or dried herb.

We are preparing for Lughnasadh, a witch/wiccan holiday that takes place on August 1st, in honor of the Celtic god Lugh, The Many-Skilled One. At Lughnasadh rituals, I usually ask people to bring something to share that they have created, whether it be artwork, a song, a poem, a dance, something they have made, or anything that displays their creative skills and talents. We then offer these gifts to our deities, so that they may strengthen them or inspire us with new ways to use them.

Once I have my laptop back, I will be able to post more often. Until then…