Monday, April 29, 2019

Book Review: The Happy Mind by Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When Maria from TCK Publishing reached out asking if I would review The Happy Mind: A Simple Guide to Living a Happier Life Starting Today by Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie I was a little hesitant. The book isn't about witchcraft or paganism, so why the heck should I review it? I almost turned it down, but then I started thinking, "How many times in a witchy group have I seen witches asking for 'love and light' or spells to make them happier? How many times have I myself posted about my depression and the magical steps I have taken to try and help alleviate my symptoms." The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I should probably accept the offer, if not to help myself, but all those other witches out there suffering as well. I'm glad I did.

Book Review: The Happy Mind by Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie

The Happy Mind is an incredibly short read at just 102 pages. You can read it in one sitting, as even the authors admit that many readers will do. However, despite its shortness, it packs a powerful message. Unlike other books on happiness that give elaborate tasks and sometimes even guilt the reader, Horsley and Fourie get right to the point. They explore both happiness and unhappiness, encouraging the reader to recognize the unhappiness traps they fall into without guilting the reader for being unhappy. Personally, this is what helped me the most. Reading the passages on unhappiness and the different types were eye-opening. I've been thinking about them a great deal over the past couple of days, recognizing the signs that I am falling into those unhappiness traps before I get overwhelmed. This alone has helped focus my mindset on being happier in my daily life. Yes, I have depression. The authors recognize that many individuals have an illness, but also recognize that we can take proactive steps to be happy, even when we are struggling.

The second half of the book details tasks you can do every day to be happier. They encourage the reader to read the book cover to cover, then focus on one page a day, studying what it has to say and enacting change in your thoughts and behaviors. Sometimes they are easy tasks, other times they are more difficult, especially on a day where happiness seems like a distant, unattainable fantasy. These tasks are things that happy people do regularly and studies have repeatedly supported everything Horsley and Fourie present in their book.

While the book isn't about witchcraft, it is still truly magical. Combine reading this book and practicing what it has to offer within your craft and I have no doubts you'll find yourself enjoying your life and practice more each day. It isn't going to cure you overnight, but hopefully, it will at least get you thinking.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Beltane Correspondences

Beltane Correspondences

Symbolism: life, fire, fertility, marriage, sex, love, lust

Symbols: maypole, flower crowns, ribbons, spring flowers, bonfires, cauldrons, baskets, eggs, broom

Colors: green, pink, blue, yellow, red, white, brown, and other pastel colors

Food and Drink: dairy, bread, honey, oatmeal, cakes, strawberries, wine, green salads, cherries, lemonade

Herbs: almond, ash, clover, cinquefoil, lily of the valley, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, foxglove, honeysuckle, elder, ivy, lilac, rose, yarrow, bluebells, marigold, thyme, and other flowering plants

Deities: Aphrodite, Artemis, Bast, Diana, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, Maiden, Mother, and other gods/goddesses of love/fertility.

Crystals and Gemstones: Emerald, malachite, bloodstone, amber, carnelian, rose quartz

Animals: bees, cow, rabbit, frog, swallow, dove, swan, cats, lynx, leopard

Magic: Beltane is a great time to cast fertility spells and perform love magic. Beltane is commonly referred to as the "sex" sabbat so any spells or rituals involving sex magic can be performed during this time. This is also a great time to get married, committing to each other for a year and a day, renewing your vows each year. If you are not interested in those magics, focus on planting or fertilizing your garden, dancing around a maypole, nurturing your goals, or just hanging out with friends around a bonfire. No matter what you decided to do, make sure you have fun!

Please note this is not a complete list but a brief overview of symbols, colors, herbs, deities, and the like. If I have missed something that you feel should make the list, please feel free to contact me via the comments or through email.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Spirit Work for Beltane

Spirit Work for Beltane

Beltane, also referred to as May Day, falls on the first of May. This sabbat is characterized by fertility rituals, phallic symbols such as the Maypole, dancing, flowers, and fires.  Like Samhain, the veil between worlds is very thin, making this the perfect time to contact spirits, more specifically the fae folk. There are tons of ways to connect with spirits during this sabbat, similar to those most people perform at Samhain, but here are three ways to work with spirits on or around Beltane if you're not sure where to start or looking to try something new.

1. Light a bonfire and practice pyromancy. 

Beltane is a fire festival after all! Pyromancy is the ancient art of divination using the flames of a fire, whether it be a candle flame or bonfire. Once the fire is lit, fix a question firmly in your mind and stare into the flames, allowing your focus to shift slightly. As you watch the flames flicker, jot down any images you see. Do this for about 10 to 15 minutes or until you believe your question has been answered adequately. A single symbol or set of similar symbols are what you should focus on, as they are the message the spirits are trying to convey to you. The symbols can be interpreted according to whatever set of traditional meanings you follow. For example, some view windmills and water fountains as signs of good changes to come, while flowers are believed to represent disappointment. Don't forget to listen to your intuition. Just because a book says one thing, it doesn't mean you are wrong. If your gut is telling you a different story, listen to it. You can find a simple fire scrying ritual here.

2. Speak with your spiritual guides.

Because the veil is thin, you can easily travel to the Otherworld and communicate with your spiritual guides during this time. I like to meet up with my animal guides during Beltane to perform magic within the Otherworld. Again, because the veil is thin, the magic quickly seeps through to our realm where it will manifest, without you having to practice the work within our realm. This is a great way to perform magic cheaply and effectively because you can will the items you need into existence or ask your guides to track them down for you. They likely already have everything you need before you know it yourself. Focus on fertility magic and prosperity during this sabbat. Think along the lines of a bountiful harvest. You can also focus on love magic, whether you are looking for a relationship or strengthening one. If you aren't up to trying magic in the Otherworld, just spend some time talking with them. There are likely other spirits who will wish to meet up with you at this time, so be open to speaking with them.

3. Invite the fae into your garden.

There are a variety of ways to do this. One is to plant their favorite flowers, as outlined in my post Inviting Fairies into Your Garden. Set out offerings of milk, honey, small cakes, shiny coins, special trinkets, or other items you think the fae would like. Remember to avoid iron as the fae hate iron. If you wish, perform a small ritual inviting them to your garden. Make sure you build in a failsafe in case you wish to remove the fae if they become rowdy or otherwise unwanted. Sometimes the fae can become a nuisance, so you want to make sure you have a way to get rid of them. During your ritual, end it by saying "Until there comes a time that I ask you to leave." You have to be very specific when working with the fae. If you are not specific enough, they will find a loophole to trick you. From my experiences, however, I have found they are pretty cooperative when you ask them to leave, as long as you are nice about it. Keep them happy and they will keep your home safe in return, albeit they may make a little mischief themselves.

And there you have it, three easy ways to perform spirit work on Beltane! Do you have a special way you like to honor spirits or work with spirits during Beltane? Please share in the comments below!

Monday, April 15, 2019

April Full Moon Worksheet

April Full Moon Worksheet

This month's full moon is on the 19th and is likely going to bring about some turmoil and changes within your own life despite the moon being in Libra. Groups previously in power will fall from grace, and new ones will rise to take their place. Expect your need for freedom and excitement to cause tensions in your personal relationships. However, this is a time of revolution, so use it to your advantage. This month's worksheet includes areas for you to jot down what you wish to release and charge, as well as a 6 card revolution tarot spread so you know what you already have within you, what you need to seek out, and where/how you can direct your energies to bring about major changes.

April Full Moon Worksheet


Looking for more free worksheets? Why not get your free copy of my spell/ritual worksheet to write your best spells and rituals yet?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

10 Ways to Have a Magical Evening

10 Ways to Have a Magical Evening

Following my last post, 10 Ways to Have a Magical Morning, it makes sense to cover how to have a magical evening as well. Again, I would like to say you are by no means obligated to perform magic on a daily basis. I certainly don't, but if you are looking for ways to have a more magical day, consider incorporating the following into your daily routine.

1. Take some time to meditate. This makes a lot of lists, and for a good reason. Meditation, even just 5 minutes relieves stress and lowers blood pressure. Furthermore, it's a great way to reconnect and recenter after a long.

2. Write about your day in a journal. It doesn't seem very magical, but writing about your day before bed allows you to rid yourself of negatively and provides you an opportunity to analyze your day from a magical perspective. Did you notice the same number repeatedly? Did someone say or do something odd? Did you receive any messages from spirits? When you start keeping a daily journal, you may find that the Universe and Spirit are trying to communicate with you, and what is more magical than that?

3. Cleanse your phone. You and I both know you are attached to that darn thing. Before you go to bed, wipe it down (not very magical but prevents disease) and magically cleanse it. You'd be surprised how much this changes your evening. Once you cleanse it, don't use it again until morning. This symbolic ritual will help you wind down in the evening and leave one of your most used devices clear of negativity energy.

4. Set your intentions for the following day. I'm a planner and I like to be prepared so I spend some time figuring out what I want out of the next day. I usually keep things pretty general and positive.

5. Wash your face to wash away the day. You do this in the morning and you should do it at night before bed. Don't bring that crap into bed with you. Seriously! Let it wash away down the sink. Imagine the water you use is infused with golden healing light. As you wash, it pulls away all the negativity from the day and infuses your skin with health and vibrancy.

6. Bask in the rays of the Moon. The Moon is a pretty big deal in witchcraft in case you didn't know. When she finally rises, go outside and soak in her glow. This is the most magical thing I do. Nothing beats staring up her and feeling her gentle embrace. Talk to her if you want. She is there to listen.

7. Ground and center using the Earth or crystals. I use my black tourmaline to ground and center before bed if I am having a hard time falling asleep. I simply hold the crystal in my hand with my eye closed and focus on my breathing. I imagine my feet growing roots that sink deep into the Earth. I shuts my brain off pretty quickly.

8. Expand your mind by reading a book. It really doesn't matter if the book is witchy or not. It is magical just to read and escape for a little while. I try to read at least 15 minutes every day. Put away the computer and the phone and pick up a book.

9. Enchant your pillow to bring good dreams by spraying your pillow with a calming mist. I have a mist infused with essential oils that brings happiness. This is what I use most often, but other choices can include mists with lavender, sage, or chamomile. Make sure whatever you use is safe to touch your face as you will be sleeping on it.

10. Place amethyst next to your bed to enhance dreaming. If you are looking to perform some dream magic, amethyst is a great crystal to use. It enhances psychic abilities, opens you up to dream messages, and even will help you remember them in the morning. Make sure to record them in a dream journal when you wake up!

BONUS: If you wear glasses or contacts, enchant them in the evening when you clean them to bring you insight the following day.

Most of what you do in the evening should be a reflection on the current day and washing away any negativity so you can start anew the next day. How do you have a magical evening?

Monday, April 8, 2019

10 Ways to Have a Magical Morning

10 Ways to Have a Magical Morning

Practicing magic daily has been a hot topic in witchy groups everywhere, so I figured I would share some of the ways I have a magical day. First and foremost, I want to make it known that there is no rule that says you have to practice magic every day to be a 'good' witch. If I am honest, I don't often feel like I am practicing magic, even with a morning routine, and you might not either. That's okay. Sometimes I go weeks, even months without really practicing my craft. I encourage you to do what works best for you. You are still a witch, even if you aren't actively practicing magic.

1. Enchant your toothpaste with a protection spell. As a witch with a genetic disease resulting in the continuous break down of my teeth, this is something I recently started doing in an attempt to try anything that could possibly give me relief. First, I use a medicated toothpaste, so already on the protection train, but I also enchanted it for some extra help. There are several ways you can do this. For me, I sat the toothpaste next to some protective crystals related to teeth health such as fluorite and citrine that were charged with intent and lit a white candle. I asked that the crystals and candle work together to increase the protective nature of the toothpaste. Pretty simple really.

2. Carve protective sigils in your deodorant before use to bring you luck, prosperity, courage, patients, or anything else you need. This one is pretty fun. Use something sharp, like a paperclip to lightly carve your sigil into your deodorant. If you want your deodorant to bring the same characteristic, simply draw it in marker on the container itself. If you make your own deodorant, consider picking essential oils that could bring you whatever you are looking for.

3. Imagine all negative or unwanted energies washing away during your morning shower or face wash. This one is pretty simple. Personally, I don't shower in the morning often, but when I do, I imagine my troubles washing down the drain and the warm water bringing renewing energies. I do wash my face in the morning and imagine the same thing.

4. Cleanse your bed of old energy as you make it. I do this by fluffing the pillows and wiping the comforter and imagining I am beating/wiping out the negative, stale energy and charging it with positively.

5. Infuse your morning coffee or tea with intent. Some people do this by stirring it clockwise or drawing sigils. I do it by holding the cup and imagining I am infusing it with positive energizing energy. I love just holding the cup in two hands, closing my eyes, and breathing in the smell. I'm a tea drinker personally and love French Breakfast teas laced with honeysuckle.

6. Bless your keys for safe travel. Even if you don't drive, you likely carry a set of keys with you at all times. Ask them to keep you safe until you return home. Why not put a crystal keychain on your keys to amplify the magic?

7. Practice simple glamour magic. If you wear makeup, enchant your makeup. If you don't, enchant your facewash, face lotion, or shave gel for the same purposes. Personally, I like to draw sigils on my face in foundation because I am extra like that. You can do the same with whatever you are using in the morning on your face. Ladies and gentlemen, if you are NOT moisturizing, you best start. Get with it!

8. Eat REAL food. This seems kind of mundane, but eating processed foods screws up your aura and is just bad for you. Skip the cereal for something real like eggs, avocado toast, oatmeal, or fresh fruit. I eat avocado toast with a soft boiled egg on top. Sometimes I throw in a banana as well or save it for a snack later.

9. Briefly meditate, draw an oracle card, or practice yoga. If you have time, spend 5 to 10 minutes meditating or doing some yoga to get ready for the day. If you don't, simply drawing one oracle card to see how the theme of the day is quick and fun. I usually pull it, jot it down, and research it while I am eating breakfast. I don't do this very often though, instead preferring to zone out during breakfast. Yes, zoning out of my form of meditation. I do it while running too.

10. Say a mantra. Every morning before I leave for work, I say "I've got this." I often don't feel like I do. In fact, my anxiety is constantly telling me I don't, but saying it out loud helps me recognize that I do. Heck, just being positive and smiling while you say it will change your day. You can also just give gratitude in the morning. It is hard to be negative when you are being thankful.

These are some quick and easy methods to infuse your morning with magic, and they are all gender-neutral. I see a lot of lists out there that are geared more towards women and I wanted to remedy that a bit. How do you make your mornings magical?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Setting Up Your Astral Garden/Office

Setting Up Your Astral Garden/Office

Last year in my Hedge Riding Series, I mentioned that I often visit my Garden in the Otherworld. In fact, I do much of my work within my Garden. I failed in that series, however, to explain exactly what that is or how to create your own. I wish to remedy that today and seeing from the survey many of you want more hedge riding posts, so I am killing two birds with one stone! You may notice that I am tagging this post as part of the series as well, which will make it easier for people to find it.

What is Your Astral Garden/Office

Like a physical office, your astral office or garden is a place from which you can work in the Otherworld. These two sacred spaces work in tandem with one another, allowing you to safely and efficiently conduct spirit work. Different witches refer to the sacred space within the Otherworld differently. For example, Poppy Palin refers to it as an astral office, Katie Weatherup a sacred garden, and Devin Hunter a White Room. Personally, I just call mine my Garden because that is really what it is. Whatever you call it, your sacred workspace within the Otherworld likely already exists in some fashion within the deep recesses of your mind; you just have to activate it to travel there and work out the details. I agree with Palin in that referring to it as an office, we recognize this space as important and work related. However, unlike a real office, this place is a sanctuary, free of harsh lights, buzzing computers, and weird smells. Your sacred workspace should be a place of safety as well as a place that is stimulating and calm.

Each person's workspace will be different and will likely be a mix of reality and fantasy. I love how Palin refers to it as Alice in Wonderland meets National Geographic. This is by far one of the best explanations as to what your workspace will end up looking like in the end. When you set up your workspace you will use both fantasy and natural realism. You could have rivers of gold, talking trees, singing meadows, large crystal caverns, faerie rings, endless moors, or something less fantastic, like a simple lake with a tree stump beside it. The last example is exactly what my Garden looks like. It is a temperature deciduous forest, like those found here in Georgia and Michigan where I was born, with a cool, clear lake in the middle. Beside the lake is an old tree stump where I spend most of my time sitting and talking with my guides. Around the outside of my garden is a wrought iron fence. Normally it is advised to not have concrete or steel trappings of modern society within your garden, but this is the boundary that spoke to me as the protector of my sacred space. Furthermore, most creatures don't like iron, meaning anything that wishes to hurt me can't pass through the gates. Some people say there should be nothing that is modern manmade inside of your garden, as it brings pollution and destruction into the Otherworld. Others say go for it if it helps you work. I strongly encourage you to do what works best for you, whether it be a garden or an actual office space. You may find, however, that it is naturally natural. That doesn't mean that there won't be buildings in your workspace, but they may not look like the buildings we are accustomed to today.

How to Set Up Your Astral Garden/Office

To begin setting up your sacred space within the Otherworld, begin jotting down or making a mental note of what you would like your space to be like. I knew mine would be a forest right from the get-go and that's really all I started with. I did not elaborately plan my Garden, but you are more than welcome to. Spend time making notes and even sketching some drawings if you like. Whatever helps you make a mental note of what would be the perfect space for your spiritual practice within the Otherworld.

After you have a plan, you will need to journey there. Begin by setting your purpose for your journey. This can be as simple as stating, "I will journey to my sacred space within the Otherworld." If you want, add in that you will meet your guides there. Setting the correct purpose and traveling with intent will guarantee you travel to the correct destination. For more on this and hedge riding, please refer to my post How to Hedge Ride.

Once you have successfully arrived in the Otherworld, you may notice that some things are missing or that the space is completely blank, even with all of your elaborate planning. Each person starts building their astral space differently, so don't be upset if there is nothing or only a partially complete space. Mine has grown over time and continues to change as I grow. If the space is completely formed, which is rare, spend time exploring it and getting to know it. Otherwise, you will need to begin making your dream a reality. Begin walking the space, even if there is nothing there and imagine what you have designed coming to life before you. You may do this by waving your hands or calling forth what you want. My personal experience was less formal. I remember seeing the wrought iron gate and a dense forest, but beyond that was nothing. As I walked through the gate and into the forest, the world began to develop on its own exactly how I wanted it to be. The deeper I walked more details appeared. I didn't expect a lake at the center, but there it was, perfectly round with a beautiful moss-covered stump on its shore. It was perfect.

I encourage you to spend no more than 20 minutes at a time setting up your office or garden or whatever you want to call it. It will take a lot of energy out of you, so be wary of spending too much time there when you are designing. Also, bring your guides along with you! They will love to help you design your space. Meka galloped around, flowers growing in her wake. She was so happy to help me create a home. I'm sure your guides will want to do some designing too, especially because they will be spending a lot of time there as well. And that's it!

Honestly, this is one of the easiest things to do regarding hedge riding and a heck of a lot of fun! I would absolutely LOVE to hear about your gardens and offices or whatevers in the comments below. I always love hearing about other people's experiences in the Otherworld, so please leave a comment, send an email, or leave me a message on social media.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Bone Magic Series: Furs and Pelts: How to Use Them In Magic

Bone Magic Series: Furs and Pelts: How to Use Them In Magic

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

In the last post, I covered how skulls and bones are ritually used in witchcraft, both historical and modern. This post will cover the use of pelts, furs, leather, and skin in magical practices through time and across the globe.

Pelts and fur refer to the outside covering of an animal. A pelt is the animal's skin and fur, while the fur alone is no longer attached to the skin, such as when you brush your dog or cat. Also included in this category would be animal skins, such as snakeskin, leather, and wool. These make up the outside covering of the animal, being used for touch, protection, and temperature regulation. The skin contains hundreds of thousands of nerve endings, thus making the skin one of the first ways an animal interacts with the world. Furthermore, skin and fur act as a protectant, keeping in moisture and harmful pathogens. Finally, the skin is used for temperature regulation, providing an anchoring site for sweat glands, as well as for fur to aid in warmth. Animal remains other than bones don't tend to preserve very well, so much of what we know regarding the use of pelts and furs is inferred from paintings, writings, and indigenous cultures still present today. Pelts and furs were most commonly used in garments and blankets for warmth, especially during winter months, and as containers for water or miscellaneous items. However, that doesn't mean that they didn't have magical uses as well.

One of the most common uses of animal pelts/fur/leather/etc was to invoke the spirit of the animal whose pelt was being worn. The most famous example of this is the Navajo skinwalkers. According to Navajo legend, a skinwalker is a medicine man who has reached the highest level of priesthood but has chosen to use their powers for evil by taking the form of an animal to inflict pain and suffering. In order to become a skinwalker, the person must kill a close family member. The most common animal form taken is the coyote, followed by the owl, fox, wolf, and crow (source). Other common uses include wearing animal furs and pelts as ceremonial garb to invoke the spirit of the animal being worn. Mississippian archeological finds show that the peoples of the area relied on animal pelt headdresses as part of their ritual practice (source) while many indigenous tribes across North America, including the Pueblos, Navajo, Apache, and Inuit, dressed in furs and hides during ritual dances, again to invoke the spirit of the animal they were wearing (sourcesource). In Europe, furs were used in similar ways. In 1604, five supposed witches were burned after they pounced on a child while wearing the pelts of wolves (source). In Scotland and Wales it was believed that witches would use the pelts of hares to transform to suck the milk from cows (source). In Africa, Zulu witch doctors wear the pelts of bears to symbolize strength while monkey pelts are often worn to frighten spirits. In one instance three Zulu witchdoctors wore the pelt of a lion for strength, deer for docility, and feathers while playing the drum to scare away evil spirits during the difficult birth of the chief's child (source). Today, the Zulu church is moving away from using the pelts of endangered species, specifically the leopard, relying on faux fur instead as an act of conservation (source). Of course, animal skins are not the only skin that has been used historically. There are accounts of human skin being used as recently as the 2000s in parts of Africa as a protective charm, like a rabbit's foot, or to increase fertility, strength, and good luck (source).

Today, furs and pelts are used for the same reasons as they were historically. They are used to make jewelry, clothing, bags, and altar cloths as well as for skin dancing and invocation of the animal spirit or archetype. While there are some ethical concerns regarding furs, pelts, and leather, it should be noted that faux furs and pelts can be used as well with the same results. I don't personally use fur in my practice, at least not yet, but I would like to in the future. If you happen to use fur in your practice, I would love to know how in the comments below!

Interest in the rest of the series? Here's what's to come!

Bone Magic Series

If you are looking at learning more about pelts and skin dancing, I strongly encourage you to read Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic and Skin Spirits: The Spiritual and Magical Uses of Animal Parts by Lupa. She covers the topic extremely well as she is a skin dancer herself. She also includes wonderful crafts and projects that use animal remains.