Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It's Spoopy Time!

 Well, folks, it's that time of the year!  The weather is cooling, the air feels different, the leaves are beginning to fall, and I think Starbucks is even selling pumpkin spice everything.  The autumnal season is here!  Sure, the equinox and the "official" first day of fall is about two weeks away, but seasons don't shift just because the calendar says it shifts.  We're in a transition time, the wheel is turning, and soon it will click into place.

In celebration of my all-time favorite season, I'm offering discounted tarot card readings over at my Etsy shop!  So now until November 7, my tarot card readings are 50% off when using my super spooky Halloween decks!

My sister gave me the Zombie Tarot years ago, and it immediately became one of my favorites.  I adore the pop-culture images, the conversational tone of the deck, and how real it all is.  This is a great deck for asking mundane, real world advice.  It's not messing around (despite the zombies.  I mean, who messes around with zombies, anyway?)

Get a reading with the Zombie Tarot!

The Halloween Oracle was another love-at-first-sight deck.  I typically don't use oracle decks very often, but I adored the images and really, what's not to love about Halloween?  This deck really pulls from Halloween culture, folklore, and mythology.  The images are gorgeous, and the messages are timeless (despite the October theme.)  This deck is especially poignant when asking deeper questions about inner mysteries and spiritual issues.

Get a reading with the Halloween Oracle!

Finally, I have some Samhain incense for sale at my Etsy shop, too.  I made this with my sister, and it's a spicy, heady blend and I've had good luck with using it during ancestor work.

Check out my Samhain incense!

Have a fun, spooky season, everyone! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summertime Sadness

Hello, friends.  This is another re-post, something originally published over at Witches & Pagans / Pagan Square in 2015.  I meant to re-post this article earlier in August, but I guess the "Summertime Sadness" got to me.  But here it is, all the reasons why the summertime is my least favorite season and the hardest one for me to feel connected to.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Anxiety and the Black God

This article originally appeared on Pagan Square a few years ago.  Gaia's Circle is celebrating its 7th Lammas/Lughnasadh ritual on Saturday, and I've been thinking a lot about Bright Lugh and Black Crom as I prepare for another Celtic-themed ritual, this one devoted to Danu, the Celtic Mother Goddess.  Reading back over some of my work over at Pagan Square, I realize that I wrote a lot about anxiety (despite "mysticism" being my blog topic.)  As anxious people do, here are some more thoughts on anxiety, and how this time of year always makes me re-think my relationship with my crazy, crazy brain.

Anxiety and the Black God (2014)

A friend of mine hosted the Lughnasadh celebration for our multi-tradition ritual group, and she asked me if I’d help her out and take some speaking parts.  I accepted, and I made sure to go over my lines before we gathered.  We even practiced together before the ritual began, which should have meant that I was prepared for my cues and that the script should have flowed smoothly and beautifully.

Only it didn’t because naturally I missed my cue and had to stumble to find my place and get the ritual back on track while everyone waited patiently for me to get my act together.  I was a little embarrassed of course, but no one really minded (or if they did they were gracious and didn’t make me feel bad.)  But I’ve been thinking about this moment a lot since the ritual, held at the end of July.  Maybe I missed my cue because I just wasn’t paying attention and I’m easily distractible, but I’d like to think that I missed my cue because the ritual was actually working, that the message our talented hostess was trying to share with the group was coming across to me loud and clear. 

I already wrote about this ritual over at my personal blog, but like a good ritual should, it’s stuck with me over the past few weeks.  As the abundant bounty of summer has shifted from July and we are now well into August and the promise of a fruitful harvest, I’ve had a lot to think about and reflect upon.  I think this was an especially important ritual for me to attend (even though my participation might have been less than stellar.)

The ritual focused on spirals and changes and wheels and cycles.  I’m not the most familiar with Irish mythology, but from what I understand, the holiday of Lughnasadh is named after the funeral games that Lugh created in honor to celebrate the life of Tailtiu, his foster mother.  Tailtiu died after plowing all of Ireland, preparing the land for agriculture and to be used by humans.

The ritual included a description of the powers of Crom Dubh and the powers of Lugh.  These are the forces which hold us back and that move us forward.  They are the energies that are always circling, always spiraling, anxiety and momentum, momentum and anxiety, a push and pull of protection and fearless daring.  Even though we had gone over the ritual beforehand and I had an idea what the hostess would be talking about, I found myself hanging onto her every word as she described the ancient dance of Bright Lugh and Black Crom. 

She described Crom Dubh as those fears that keep us safe – don’t touch fire, don’t say that thing, don’t spend all of your money, don’t eat that food, don’t take unnecessary risks, etc.  She explained that while he protects us and keeps us safe, sometimes his protective arm might stretch a little too far.  As a result of Crom Dubh’s shielding reach, we don’t touch anything, we don’t say anything, we don’t trust anyone.  We may be safe, sure, but our refuge may be at the expense of forward motion.  Crom Dubh protects us, but maybe he’s that thing that holds us back, too.

So during this ritual (with my cue rapidly approaching and me oblivious) I started thinking and thinking and thinking.  What’s holding me back?  And why?  What am I anxious about?  Is this anxiety too much to the point that I am frozen, or is it just the right amount to keep me safe?  What am I waiting to harvest, and when the right moment comes, will I be able to act?

Throughout my own personal experiences as well as my studies with social work, I’ve come to understand anxiety pretty well.  It seems to plague my family, and my own fight with anxiety is a battle that I have to battle daily.  But I’ve come to understand that there are different types of anxiety, and different ways to handle these different types of anxiety.  A little anxiety can be a good thing.  It kept our ancestors from doing stupid things like eating poisonous mushrooms, talking to strangers, or touching venomous snakes.  Anxiety can be that healthy dose of mindfulness that can keep us aware, alert, and on our toes.  Anxiety can keep us safe, guarding us in that liminal space between the known and unknown.

I can’t help but wonder if the ancient Irish people understood how anxiety worked, too.  Perhaps they understood that anxiety can protect us, but surely they understood the dangers of too much protection, of overwhelming anxiety and the inability to move.  This may be the dance of Lugh and Crom Dubh, of safety and anxiety and daringness and recklessness.  As a social worker, I can’t help but wonder what the ancient Irish solution to anxiety was.  It certainly wasn’t cognitive behavioral therapy or Xanax, but maybe the ancient solution to anxiety was a powerful ritual shared with a trusted community, or even chanting and poetry recited like powerful prayers.  Or, like today, maybe the solution to anxiety was something as simple as words of encouragement and reassurance, understanding and patience. 

Since the end of July I’ve had plenty of time to think about all of those things that I’m holding onto that are keeping me from moving forward and from enjoying my harvest.  These are the blessings that Crom Dubh is keeping safe for me in his big black sack, slung across his crooked back.  I can’t say that I’ve come to any specific or profound conclusions.  I’m quite familiar with my own anxieties, and perhaps that means that I’ve been familiar with Crom Dubh my whole life.  But anxiety has a new name, and when you know the name of a thing, you have power over that thing.  So maybe anxiety doesn’t have to be so scary any more.  I can appreciate my anxieties and how they protect me, but the wheel turns and turns again, and I remember that it’s also important for me to shine brightly and move forward, to step from the darkness of Black Crom and to the shining light of Bright Lugh.

I just hope I don’t miss my cue!

Post Script: Many and endless thanks and blessings to my dear Druid, Heather Watson, for hosting such a lovely and meaningful ritual, and for allowing me to share her beautiful words.

This is the voice of Crom Dubh, the King Beneath the Mound.
This is the voice of your will to live,
Your strong and steadfast guardian.
Yesterday we may have suffocated under the weight of him
Tomorrow we may struggle in his grip
But tonight we thank him.
Give Crom Dubh your gift as he passes
Look into his eyes and give him your thanks.
You are the treasure he guards.
You are infinitely fragile and infinitely valuable,
And Crom Dubh does not surrender, does not abandon, does not yield.
Crom Dubh is always with you,
Guarding you from the vast darkness of chaos and change that seethes just below your feet,
Warding and protecting you from whatever it is that you fear most.

You can find more of Heather’s work at this link:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Year and a Day

My poor, sweet neglected blog! 

About a year ago I was writing all the time and I was loving it.  For at least a few years, “We're All Made of Stars” was regularly updated.  In 2015 I was also very busy working on a book and pitching it to publishers and agents.  I was doing some really fun freelance writing as well contributing to a website and co-hosting a radio show.

And then life happened, and here I am, almost a year later.  At the end of last year I had queued up quite a few re-posts (or even re-re-posts) but the last real blog post I did was last November.  And even before that the last real-real blog post I did was last August!

So here I am, nearly a year later, and I find myself on the hazy, muggy edges of another strange, weird summer.  So I thought it was time to update my neglected blog, and write a bit about my wild, crazy, cosmic life...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Re-Post: "Signs of Love: Imbolc"

(Originally posted on the online religious news magazine, Creedible and on this blog, 2014)

Photo by Sonja Bannick
The energy of this time of year is hard to describe. Winter holiday festivities are long past, and it seems like there is nothing to look forward to for the next few months. It’s the end of winter and beginning of spring, but that doesn’t always make sense. Some cities haven’t even gotten cold yet and the bulbs are already popping up, while other places are still buried under many feet of snow with no hope for blooms or sunlight. 
Imbolc, celebrated on the second of February, is the ancient Irish holiday that commemorates this in-between time. Originally a festival celebrating ewes’ milk, this was the time of year that pregnant sheep started lactating, which meant it was a good time to make cheese. Most people, though, have never even seen a ewe, let alone any other type of lactating livestock. Although ancient Ireland is worlds away from the contemporary United States, Imbolc still holds important lessons for everyone.

It’s still cold outside, or if it’s not cold, it’s still grey and brown and dreary. Because of the blustery weather, this is a good festival to spend with the family, focusing on hearth and home. It is a good time of year to start working on spring cleaning and to start thinking of the tasks and projects that need to be done once spring is fully here. 

While Yule is a fire festival that is bright and dynamic and exciting, Imbolc, while still a festival of flames, is more quiet and reflective. It’s a good time to sit in front of the fireplace, or in front of a flickering candle, and focus on arts, crafts and other creative projects that you enjoy doing. 

Many of us have no idea how our food gets from the farm to our homes, but Imbolc might be a good time to honor livestock and crops even if we don’t have any of our own. Traditional holiday foods are milk and cheese, so treat your family to something local, organic, free range and delicious. 

Some Catholics may know this holiday as Candlemass, or perhaps St. Brigid’s Day. Brigid is a clear example of an ancient Pagan goddess who was reinterpreted by Christians and given a whole new life and story. Flames and creativity are sacred to Brigid, who may be related to a northern goddess who predicted winter by the length of the shadows. Bright, sunny weather on Candlemass meant she could gather lots of extra firewood for a prolonged winter. 

February for many is still the winter, but the tradition of Groundhog’s Day has its roots in the ancient Pagan world when people would look to nature for omens to see just how long winter would last. Maybe the groundhog isn’t afraid of his shadow on February second, but rather the cold weather the winter goddess promises to bring in February!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Re-Post: "Imbolc Oil"

9 drops sandalwood
13 drops vanilla extract
9 drops jasmine
13 drops cedar
Grape seed oil

This oil can be used for creative inspiration, change, cleansing, arts, crafts, work, Brigid, honoring Celtic ancestors, health, healing, Goddess worship, winter, spring, dark moon, new moon, black moon, initiation, newness, Imbolc, etc. or any other associations with late winter/early spring, Brigid, Imbolc, and the dark/new moon.

Comhn orm a Bhride!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Re-Post: "Nearer"

A post about NYE, 2013

Last night with a sparkler in each hand, I drew huge banishing spirals into the air, thinking about the year that had just passed.

“Out with the old” I whispered, over and over again.

When the time felt right, I reversed my spirals, spinning inward, with the hopes to bring luck and love to me in 2014.

“In with the new!”

As the sparklers began to burn out out I went crazy with my magic, dancing and looping large streaks of burning color into the air.

“Out with the old, in with the new, out with the old, in with the new, out with the old, in with the new!”

When the light finally died, I released my intentions into the cosmos with a cheer. “Happy New Year!” My friends, enjoying their own magical moment of sparklers and nighttime joy, shouted with me. “Happy New Year!”

That was my last bit of magic for 2013, and my first bit of magic for 2014. Not bad for a year of intense ritual experiences and divine revelations… I’m not much of a resolution type person, but I really hope 2014 has just as much magic as 2013, if not more. 13 is a witch’s number, and I’d really say that 2013 was the Year of the Witch for me, but 4 is my number, and I’m really hoping that 2014 is The Year of The Space Witch.

Last night, home and slightly tipsy from champagne, I drew a card from my new deck, gifted to me from a dear witch friend. For this first reading of a brand new deck, Le Tarot des Femmes Erotiques, I drew the seven of pentacles. “Wait for the Moment” it tells me. Whereas 2013 Space Witch would have been annoyed and impatient, 2014 Space Witch is wise and understanding. I recognize the advice to wait wait wait as the current theme in my life.

Wait. The Cosmos have been telling me for months. For years. Wait. Now is not the time.

So I get my seeds and soil ready and I wait and do all the work I can for when the time is right, because I know when the time comes I need to be ready.


So I started the day of 2014 with some more magic, making monkey bread and bacon and drinking champagne. (The Space Witch is a classy witch, for sure.) As I roll balls of dough I whisper into the food “Out with the old, in with the new, out with the old, in with the new, out with the old, in with the new!” I add a pinch of nutmeg for divine inspiration, cloves for a spicy kick, and cinnamon for an extra oomph. I can’t wait for this hot, goey, breakfast treat. So of course I take it out of the oven too quickly. The inside is still raw. “Wait!” the Cosmos remind me with my uncooked breakfast.

Oh yeah. Right. Maybe I still have some work to do on this whole patience thing, after all...

And later we get to enjoy pork loin, cabbage, and black eyed peas. I do live in the South, after all, and I can use all the luck I can get, and black eyed peas are lucky indeed. I’ll probably give some to the nature and land spirits later, or to the house wights.

But today isn’t just the New Year. No! It’s the new moon as well! How fortuitous! So I’m thinking about making some incense or oil later today, too. Maybe tonight with the darkness is deep and the night is cold.

The oil will be a mix of lavender, jasmine, sandalwood, cypress, and myrrh. The incense perhaps a bit complicated as I work out the perfect recipe. But I’m hopefully for the magic of this day to carry me through the next year, to capture it into a little jar of scent and energy.

2013 was rough for many people, and 2014 won’t be without its challenges. But aren’t you so excited?