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Author Archives: Anne Greco

About Anne Greco

Anne Greco is a non-fiction writer who writes about her life experiences and travels with humor, keen observations, and the hope that her words will remind us that “we’re all just walking each other home.” Her book, Serendipity: Chance Pilgrimages, tells the story of Anne encountering her places of power. As she reconnects with herself at each site, Anne also develops a deeper understanding and appreciation of her connection to both the seen and unseen worlds. Learn more about her work here: http://annegrecowriter.com.

Witches, Druids, and Sin Eaters, by Jon C. Hughes with Sophie Gallagher

Witches, Druids, and Sin Eaters: The Common Magic of the Cunning Fold of the Welsh Marches, by Jon C. Hughes with Sophie Gallagher
Destiny Books, 9781644114285, 296 pages, September 2022

Witches, Druids, and Sin Eaters beckons one to the Welsh Marches – the ancient borderland of Wales and England. It is a brilliant collaboration between Jon Hughes, a fifth-generation Druid living in a remote part of Wales and Sophie Gallagher, a Welsh-born witchcraft researcher with a deep knowledge of the ancient witches of the Welsh Marches. 

Seeking to explore and bring to light the “treasure trove of untapped information relating to the ancient Druids and arcane witchcraft that evolved in the Welsh Marches”1 while incorporating the current practices in this area, Hughes and Gallagher looked at artifacts, texts, museum archives, and even the natural landscape. They soon discovered that there were more similarities than differences in the practices of the Druids and the witches. The book delves into regional practices such as sin eaters and eye biters and even includes the area’s influence on the writing of J. R. R. Tolkein.

Accompanying photographs of artifacts, sites, and buildings bring to life the artifacts and markings of these people. The most widespread witch marks found in the area’s buildings are of taper burns, intentional in their making and not by the random flicker of a flame too close to a wall. Photographs of items such as a curse doll, a wooden witch’s coffin curse, and protective amulets and devices found in walls and floorboards, illustrate the influence of the witches and Druids in this region.

“People have secretly hidden objects in their houses for centuries (things like bottles, shoes, and bodies of cats) to protect themselves and their families from various forms of supernatural menace (evil spirits, witches, hostile magic, malign influences) to influence events or to take revenge on people that have wronged them.”2 

The work is comprehensive in its exploration of the significance of the earth-based practices of the Druids and witches in the Welsh Marches. The Druids have lived in this area for over 6,000 years, from around 3,800 B.C. The region, of course, experienced tumult since the first ancient people arrived there. The book also details encounters of these people with the Romans in their first invasion, with reminders that the Romans were also pagan until 313 A.D.

Historical references put things into context. I was particularly struck by the reading about the Walton Basin, on the Welsh side of the border, which archeologists believe was a national ceremonial center. A timber henge, approximately 328 feet in diameter, was discovered that is felt to be a prototype for a stone henge that was not built. There were similarities between the deposits found at this site and Stonehenge.

Tolkein enters the picture in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, England, where he joined British archeologist, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, at Dwarf’s Hill in the late 1920s. Dwarf’s Hill contained a labyrinth of tunnels and was thought to be the home of little people. A tablet bearing a curse was also found. Silvianus, a Roman, had lost a ring and cursed all who bore the name of Senicianus, the supposed thief.

Wheeler invited Tolkein to examine the site of Noden’s Temple at Dwarf’s Hill after which Tolkein contributed to a report on the origin of the name, Noden. When Tolkein later wrote The Hobbit “it became impossible not to speculate upon the connection between his experiences at Lydney and his epic tales of Middle Earth,“3 including Hobbits and a ring.

The book provides simply fascinating information and insight. Sin eaters and eye biters….oh, my. Sin eaters were unique to the Welsh culture and the region of the Welsh Marches. The sin eater (always male) took upon himself the sins of the newly deceased so that the departed could find his/her place in the hereafter. A sin eater was retained by the family of the deceased and would consume a cake called a dead cake which had been placed on the breast of the corpse at sunset. It would remain there until sunrise the following morning where it was thought to absorb the sins of the departed. The sin eater would then consume the cake along with ale.

Eye biters were found among the powerful witches of the Welsh Marches who were thought to have the ability to cast evil curses simply by looking at their victims. Their gaze was as effective as if they were to “bite the jugular vein (of the victim) and watch them bleed to death.”4 Beware the brathwyr llygaid, or eye biters!

As a reference, the book provides a comprehensive list of five prominent occultists (alchemists, astrologers, and occult philosophers) who “influenced the kings and emperors of much of Europe and beyond.”5 These men, while famous, reflect the many unknown practitioners, who live/lived in the Welsh Marches:

“There is little doubt that the unique and extraordinary culture of the Welsh Marches has had a lasting influence upon the history of the occult within the Marches itself and further afield around the globe.”6

Hughes and Gallagher remind the reader that the lore of the Druids and witches was an oral tradition. They bring the reader into the modern era of witches and Druids. “A Druid is a learned pagan, well versed in the oral tradition of paganism and the role of the Druid as a teacher and spiritual leader within it.”7 Like the Druids, witches maintain an ancient understanding of natural magic. The authors write extensively about Neo-Paganism in its many forms.

The book is divided into two sections. The first section, “Witchcraft and Druidic Lore of the Welsh Marches” focuses on all that was written about above. The second section, “Grimore of the Welsh Marches (Yr Llyfr Swynion Gororau Cymru)” opens the reader to the book of spells of the Welsh Borderland. It is a valuable companion to the first part of the book and allows the reader to investigate this natural magic. “While this grimoire is the result of a detailed comparison of witchcraft practices and Druidic lore, it must not be considered an erroneous conflation of the two traditions.”8

The reader is reminded that there are fundamental differences between the two and also varying beliefs and practices within each tradition. “…It is a subtle blending of selective beliefs and practices that have an underlying unity that resonates within both traditions, allowing the merging of both without compromising the fundamental principles of either.”9

There is information on preparing the work space and crafting components, casting a circle, use of botanicals, invocations, protection against malevolent energies, amulets, talismans, and charms. 

Also introduced are witch marks (burn marks), various types of spells, the casting and lifting of spells and curses, the use of wands and the crafting of wands, working with waters and oils, creating poppers (a small doll representing the recipient of a curse). I particularly liked (and was relieved) that the second section of the book ended with elixirs of love. As the authors remind, “in the case of inanimate objects they of course have a material manifestation and are also imbued with a communal spirit; however, they do not have a personal spirit that all living things receive at conception.”10

Overall, Witches, Druids, and Sin Eaters is a very comprehensive look at this unique area of the world, one with a long and deep history of Druids and witches. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a deep dive into this all-important region, particularly if you feel drawn to the aforementioned spiritual paths of Druidry or Witchcraft. There’s so much valuable history revealed in this book that is sure to expand your background knowledge, particularly the impact these lands have had on writers such as Tolkien and those dedicated to exploring the mysteries, such as alchemists, astrologers, and occult philosophers.

Hearth & Home Witchcraft, by Jennie Blonde

Hearth & Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit, by Jennie Blonde
Weiser Books, 1578637737, 211 pages, September 2022

A balm. A comfortable chair that offers you the ability to relax in order to dream, to conjure, to recharge. A friend, a companion, a motivator. This is what Hearth & Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit by Jennie Blonde, the self-proclaimed “Comfy Cozy Witch”, was to me. I’m sure it will be the same for you.

Blonde succeeds in combining witchcraft for the hearth and home with hygge, the Danish and Norwegian lifestyle concept that translates loosely into “hug.” I’ve often written on the topic of hygge, so it was a quite “coincidence” to begin the book by reading how Jennie incorporated hygge into her practice to create something “comfy, cozy, and witchy.”1

This wonderful, informative book guides the reader into finding and practicing comforting and nourishing hearth and home magic for every season. As with hygge in general, one is asked to keep in mind that what is comforting and cozy to you may not be the same to another person. You are called to create a home and hearth that reflects you, that nourishes you, and comforts you. Jennie also reminds the reader that “everyone’s idea of comfort within witchcraft differs.”2

Blonde has been practicing witchcraft for over two decades. In addition to this book, she has a podcast called… you guessed it: Comfy Cozy Witch. She writes in a way that is both informative and casual; she writes as if we are sitting in her kitchen talking over a cup of tea. The book is “a blend of story-telling, witchcraft, and warmth…accessible to any witch, at any point of their journey. A book filled with information, personal anecdotes, rituals, spell work, and recipes to nourish yourself, nourish your home, nourish your spirit.”3

Hearth & Home Witchcraft is divided into seven sections, each focusing on places (hearth and home, kitchen, garden and nature), one’s self, and everyday rituals. Also included is a reference to the book’s rituals and recipes as well as a glossary of terms and references for future reading. The Wheel of the Year is detailed with corresponding delicious, easy to make recipes including mini bread loaves (Lughnasadh), honey butter (Imbolc), and sangria (Litha). The recipes ensure this is a book to keep out year-round.

Readers are introduced to the concept of choosing a household deity (if one feels so inclined) to work with. Blonde offers a few suggestions for household deities, such as Hestia, Vesta, and Brigid but leaves open to choice what resonates with the reader, noting it could also be a spirit of local lands of an animistic deity. There is a corresponding house goddess ritual too. 

There are also suggestions on ways to make one’s home both magical and homey, inviting and nourishing. There are magical cleaning tips, everyday magical items with which to “work,” and suggestions for making areas of your home both reflect and sustain you. Here Blonde focuses on the basic tenants of the home of a hearth witch:

“Hearth craft begins and ends in the home, there is a focus on cleanliness, there is positive nurturing energy with subtle touches of magic, and there is a respect for all of nature.”4

In turning one’s attention to the hearth, or kitchen, Jennie writes about the kitchen altar, herb and tea magic, as well as kitchen rituals for meditation and balance. There is a large focus on food and recipes, for as she writes, “the kitchen of a home is a place of gathering. Food, in and of itself, is magic.”5 Some of the ones I’ve tried so far are the pumpkin chocolate muffins and herby biscuits, which were both delicious.

Imagine tales in which the witches toil over a cauldron to create magic – Blonde helps the reader create similar magic in a modern kitchen with tried and true items such as tea, cinnamon, honey, and mint. There are sprays and rituals for things such as energy cleansing and lessening anxiety, which I made for one of my daughters. It was simple to make, yet I felt the potency of the mixture as I blended it together. So far, she’s loved the calming effects.

Blonde encourages the reader to set up one’s own sacred space – be it in the home itself or on the property surrounding the home. “A sacred space is personal in nature and the location varies depending on who you talk to.”6 One can engage in “witchy self-care” in these sacred spaces – ways to ground, relax, recharge, and reconnect. For extending the interior space to the natural world, there are tips for setting up a witch’s garden, and working with Fairies. I am especially looking forward to trying out the Ancestor Honoring Ritual for Samhain.

Overall, Blonde helps the reader identify ways to find “magic in the everyday things, no matter how big or small.”7 The biggest suggestion is to find time – no matter how small – to participate in one’s rituals. She reminds us to find the magic that surrounds us, and that “It isn’t the length of a ritual that matters, it’s the quality.”8  To settle into the magic so that it supports us, comforts us, grounds us and activates us, Hearth & Home Witchcraft is the book to read. It’s the small things we do with meaning that matter. I highly recommend this book to settle into the comfy, cozy routines of your life that make it magic.

The Big Book of Candle Magic, by Jacki Smith

The Big Book of Candle Magic, by Jacki Smith
Weiser Books, 9781578637638, 309 pages, July 2022

Jacki Smith, founder of Coventry Creations, the largest magical candle company in North America, has written the most enlightening (!) book on candle magic, aptly titled The Big Book of Candle Magic. Described as a “comprehensive, in-depth guide including instructions for casting your own spells”1, this book opens with the most important question to consider before delving into the material: Do I really need a spell?

I loved being challenged by this question at the opening, as it made me sit up and take notice. I was no longer a passive reader, I was a participant. “Aunt Jacki”, as she refers to herself throughout the book, creates a conversational atmosphere in which she engages the reader and guides them through candle magic. How can you be intimidated into delving into this topic when Aunt Jacki is right there beside you?

She provides guidance on defining what a spell is – a “shifting of energy toward an intended goal.”2 She continues by writing that “the impact of that spell depends on your prep work, your intention, and your commitment to a shift in energy”3, while reminds the reader that “magic at its core is healing.”4 To help you answer her original question as to whether you need a spell, she writes that “if you are ready to manifest a change and heal a need both in yourself and in the wider world, then yes!”5

The book is divided into four sections, all providing guidance, tools, suggestions, and exercises including, most importantly, getting clear on whether you need a spell or a reality check. Again, your Aunt Jacki is going to lovingly help set you straight.

“Law of Attraction and magic. Is there a difference? If so, what is it? When you add the ritual of magic to your intent…your intent will manifest faster and cleaner. And that is where candle magic comes in. Candles provide an easy, powerful ritual within themselves.”6

Section One, The Magic Hour is Now”, provides exercises such as the “Why is That?” exercise. She encourages the reader to start and maintain a Candle Magic Journal, again with instructions provided. She details the difference between basic candle magic of lighting a candle versus advanced candle magic that includes casting a spell. Other topics included in the section include setting intent and casting for guidance.

Section Two, “Joy of Spellcrafting”, provides guidance on choosing a candle, prepping your candle for magic, and accessorizing your spell. Jacki delves into different types of candles (such as pillars, votive, and tea lights), blessed and dressed candles, sigils, color, and casting. I tend to not speak my spells out loud, but Jacki writes that a candle spell needs words to activate it and these words must be spoken out loud. She provides different phrasings of a spell, showing how one way is more valuable than another. Jacki prompts the reader to include boundaries of a time frame in the spell with an attainable due date, or else the spell is just a wish. 

Section Three, “Art of Cocreation”, focuses on inviting in the divine energies in the Universe. She encourages the reader to co-create with the spiritual realm. There is focus on setting up an altar and the types of altars such as an ancestor altar (my favorite), a purpose altar, nature altars, garden altars, divinity altars, and big magic altars – whatever you’re drawn to. She provides information on lighting the candle and ceromancy, the spiritual language of candles. Wondering how to “read” a candle? It’s in the book! And again, in this section she prompts the reader to return to their Candle Magic Journal with a list of questions on which to focus. 

Section Four, “Index of Inspiration”, is the reference section of the book. It provides a sample candle spell index (prosperity, love and relationships, protection, and clearing) that includes candle colors, candle types, dressing oils, and accessories such as stones or photographs.  There is a moon sign index as well as a color index, a magic herb index, a crystal and stone index, a tarot index, and a Magic 5 index of ingredients. While the first three sections are more conversational and action-oriented, this section is more informational and one that you’ll turn for reference as you delve into candle magic. 

Plus this book contains guidance, exercises, prompts, and recommendations on things such as creating a spell (the best spells rhyme!), different types of spells, use of color, stones, and tarot. Encyclopedic in the best way to describe some of the chapters.

In addition to its wealth of information, what is also unique about the book is its conversational tone, with craft projects, confessions, clarification, musing, and tips from our Aunt Jacki. What I most valued about Jacki’s writing was that it challenged me through prompts, journaling, and exercises to commune with the candles.

I was invited to set intentions, get clear about what I was calling into my life and why. Aunt Jackie helped me to define what I want and what I’m willing to do to get clear, as well as helping me to tune into if I was truly ready to act when I cast a spell. All of this was new terrain for me. To be honest, I never gave these questions much thought. But as Aunt Jackie reminds the reader, spells are actualized by my action. “Build your spell with clear intent and then pay attention to the outcomes. And there is always an outcome.”7 

“The goal of candle magic – or any magic of that matter – is to move your own limitations, fears, blocks, and beliefs out of the way so your intention can become real. “8

After reading The Big Book of Candle Magic, I continue to carry with me Aunt Jackie’s words that magic demands change. She reminds us if there is no need for change, there is no need for magic. I highly recommend this book if you are ready and willing to change. It will light the way for a new way of living with the magic of candles for years to come!

Pagan Portals – Aos Sidhe, Meeting the Irish Fairy Folk of Ireland, by Morgan Daimler

Pagan Portals – Aos Sidhe: Meeting the Irish Fairy Folk of Ireland, by Morgan Daimler
Moon Books, 9781789049374, 85 pages, August 2022

Journeys have not been easy to come by for me this summer. However, although the pandemic kept my physical travel plans on hold, I was able to journey to the Emerald Isle with Morgan Daimler to visit the land of the Fair Folk through the pages of Pagan Portals – Aos Sidhe: Meeting the Irish Fairy Folk of Ireland.

Ireland is one of my favorite places to visit but I do remember being warned not to disturb the places where the fair folk dwelled. I was surprised by this warning as we are living in the 21st century. Did people still believe in the fair folk? This book answered my question with a resounding “Yes!”

In the Author’s Note, Daimler indicates that she is “writing this book because of an aisling, a vision, I had and because I feel like this book is a necessary thing to help people sort out Irish folk belief from pop culture and fiction.”1

Aos Sidhe (pronounced Ace Shee) means “people of the fairy hills” or people of the Otherworld. According to Daimler, “They are the beings who interact with our world but exist in and come from a place that is foreign to our world, and that is the realm of the sidhe, beneath the earth, also called an Saol Eile, the Otherworld.”2 The English term for Aos Sidhe is fairy. 

Although short in length, the book is packed with various sources of information on what Morgan refers to throughout as the Good Folk or Fairy Folk which “do not exist within one cohesive grouping.”3

The book is divided into six chapters. Chapter One investigates just who the Aos Sidhe are by looking at folklore and myth. Chapter Two, “Across Belief”, provides sources of accounts with the Fairy Folk, including anecdotes of people who have had experiences with the Aos Sidhe over the last hundred years or so that they have chosen to share.

There are certain times and places, liminal points, where one could have a greater chance of encountering these beings or as Morgan writes “running afoul of the Fair Folk.”4 Samhain, the month of November, and Beltane are the strongest times. Various traditions grew around these times to appease or avoid bothering the Fairy Folk through offerings or ways to protect one’s self from the Fairy Folk. To make matters worse for us humans, the Fairy Folk cannot be seen except by choice, only manifesting in physical form if they so desire. 

Chapter Three focuses on Changelings, “a fairy surreptitiously put in the place of a human being.”5 Typically, those taken are infants, young children, newly married adults, and new mothers. They are taken to increase the number of the Fairy Folk, or for entertainment, or on a whim. She recounts four cases from 1826 – 1895 of people who were accused of being changelings and the treatments they suffered at the hands of friends and family, all of which ended in death. To aid in protecting against being taken, iron and Christian holy items were used, such as pinning a safety pin to a baby’s clothing or by the sacrament of Baptism. 

Descriptions of the types of Fair Folk are covered in Chapter 4. A few favorites stand out in this chapter for me. Having grown up watching the movie Darby O’Gill and the Little People. I was scared at a young age by the screams of the Bean Sidhe (banshee) in the movie.  This “woman of the fairy hills” is probably one of the best-known of the Fair Folk, as being one who predicts death. I was surprised to learn that there are Cat Sidhe and Dobharchu or water dogs. Other Fairy Folk include Maighdeana Mhara, or “sea maidens” or mermaids, Puce or goblins and sprites, and Ronata, seal folks who the Scottish refer to as Selkies.  The Ronata use seal skins to transform themselves. 

Of course, everyone has heard of Leprechauns whose name is thought to come from the Old Irish word, luchorpan which means a very small body6. According to Daimler, there remains debate as to whether Leprechauns are part of the ranking order of Aos Sidhe or are separate, distinct beings.

Chapter 5 is titled “Safe Dealings with the Fairy Folk or Good People” to ensure people responsibly interact with these folks. As Morgan warns:

“Throughout recorded accounts of the Aos Sidhe there have always been humans who have encountered or interacted with these beings, sometimes with good results and sometimes with bad results.”7

She cautions that there are rules to interacting with the Good People in order to promote safety but that there are “real risks of encountering or dealing with these beings.”8 The chapter covers etiquette, offerings, and protections that include things to carry on one’s person in those liminal times (such as salt or a red thread) or hanging an iron horseshoe above one’s door. 

Chapter 6 and the Conclusion deal with common misconceptions of the Good Folk. Morgan reminds us that “stories of these beings have been woven into Ireland’s very earth for well over a thousand years.”9 Daimler notes that the book is meant to be an introduction not a tome. 

Also included at the end of the book is a much-appreciated Terms and Pronunciation Guide. Though, I would have liked to see this at the beginning of the book, as I spent the entire book mispronouncing the Irish terms. 

I highly recommend this book by Daimler, an author with many books on subjects such as Fairies, Brigid, and Irish Paganism to her credit. I learned a lot in reading Pagan Portals – Aos Sidhe: Meeting the Irish Fairy Folk of Ireland, but I have to admit that it left me with an uneasy feeling. I do not want to cross these beings, or inadvertently encounter them. I avoid conjuring them up. I recently resisted the temptation of staring too long at a fairy garden because as Morgan reminds the reader,  the Aos Sidhe are “always leaving but never gone.”10

Living a Hygge Lifestyle This Summer

Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian lifestyle concept that translates loosely into “hug.” Hygge has become very popular in the last few years with books and magazines dedicated to helping us bring this way of living into our daily lives. Most associated with the cold, dark winter months, Hygge promotes coziness, wellness, contentment, the warmth of friendship, and simplicity in food and decorative surroundings. Think candlelight, blankets, and steaming mugs of coffee and cinnamon pastries shared with friends around a table.

Winter hygge can be practiced alone – imagine sitting in an oversized chair, curled up in a chenille blanket with your favorite book in hand, seeing the snow fall gently outside your window as you light a candle on the end table. But most often than not, the hygge encourages interacting with friends; think sitting around a fireplace, drinking hot mulled cider, while playing board games with your friends. It’s this human interaction that helps get one through the cold, lonely winter months. 

I love to hygge in the winter but I also want to bring it into my life in the summer. Can it be done? Absolutely! Here’s how you incorporate hygge into the warm and light-filled days of summer:

Switch your fire source
Move from gathering with friends and family around the fireplace inside your home to an outdoor fire pit. Even on the hottest of days, the evenings are cool enough to comfortably enjoy sitting around a fire pit. Laugh, talk, tell stories, make s’mores. Even consider buying some “magical” powders to change the color of the flame: potassium chloride for purple flames, copper chloride for blue flames, and lithium chloride for pink flames.

✿ Turn off the oven
Going in the complete opposite direction of winter hygge, try not to use your oven for cooking and baking. Look up no-bake dessert recipes to serve your visitors – from icebox cake, to key lime cream pie, strawberry pie, and crunchy candy clusters. 

Host casual, outdoor gatherings
Continue to invite the company friends and family but move the gathering outdoors and make it casual. Think dinner under the stars either at an outdoor table or on a blanket. Create an outdoor movie theater with a projector and a white sheet – and bring the popcorn. 

Relax outside
Move your alone time from your indoor cozy chair to a macramé hammock or under a tree, on the beach, or sitting in a garden (yours or a public one).

Bring in the light
Change out your décor and use lighter colors.  This can be done inexpensively with just a few strategically placed objects that you find at a thrift shop or discount home decorating store. Develop a system of seasonally recycling what you already own – go “shopping” in the storage in your own home. Bring in the whites, creams, beiges, with touches of pastels. Look to nature for inspiration. And don’t forget the walls! Replace pictures of snowy woods, fallen leaves, and winterscapes with images of the lake, sea, or summer birds. 

Spruce up your home decor
Change out your linens, fabrics, pillows, and rugs. Replace your flannel sheets with cotton ones. Remove your heavy down comforter for a cotton bedspread. Use lighter throw blankets. Change out your dark-colored throw pillows for lighter ones. Replace the velvets with cotton. Consider rolling up that heavy wool rug and replacing it with rugs that are made of natural fibers. Again, this can be done inexpensively by shopping at discount stores both online and at brick and mortar stores. 

Eat lighter foods
Replace stews, roasts, and hot soups with quiches, salads, and cold soups. And eat your veggies and fruit – lots of them as this is the time that they are in abundance.

Change your light source
Replace your candles with fairy lights – or better still, go outside in the evening and watch the fireflies dance around the garden. 

Spend more time outside
Live outdoors as much as possible. And let the outdoors in by opening your windows as much as possible.

I hope you fill your world with summer days with hygge. Continue to enjoy its benefits of simplicity, friendship, and nourishing company and food in the dog days of summer. Blessed be!

Brigid’s Light, edited by Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella

Brigid’s Light: Tending the Ancestral Flame of the Beloved Celtic Goddess, edited by Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella
Weiser Books, 1578637694, 256 pages, March 2022

Ancient Pagan goddess or Catholic saint? Brigid brings her power and wisdom in many guises for the benefit of all. In her guise as the Goddess of the Flame, her head surrounded in a halo of fire, “she stands with us at the in-between parts of our lives, calling us to her so we can learn how to face the moment.”1  As the Lady of the Well, Brigid is also very much associated with the waters, often known for bringing inspiration and creating a flow of ideas. Brigid is most associated with Ireland where one finds the earliest documentations of her. Her wells in Kildare (one known to the public and one a bit more hidden and off the tourist path) are visited by those seeking aid. The Saint Brigid’s monastery is also in Kildare, not too far from Dublin. 

Brigid’s Light: Tending the Ancestral Flame of the Beloved Celtic Goddess, edited by Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella, is an anthology with writings from a diverse pool of authors, each opening up to their encounters with Brigid, whether through prose, poetry, art, and even recipes. In their selection of contributors, Crow and Louella sought to “reflect Brigid’s diversity in a wide variety of experiences of her power, a number of unique portrayals of her divinity, and even in different writing styles and spellings of her name.”2 Because Brigid’s influence is far-reaching, many of the contributors come from places other than Ireland.

The authors provide insight into the various ways that Brigid is celebrated and called on for assistance and sustenance, both physical and non-physical. Each writer encourages the reader to allow the “light of her flame always to guide you to your highest purpose.”3 There is a short bio of each of the contributors at the end of the book that allows the reader to further connect with those whose writings resonated with them.  

The book is divided into six parts, each dealing with a specific theme: “The Many Faces of Brigid”, “Goddess in Nature”, “Rituals Practices and Prayers”, “Goddess of Hearth and Home”, “Mothers and Daughters”, and “Circle of Life and Death”. 

The poetry found in each section was inspiring and melodious, each an offering to Brigid. The words flowed like the water surrounding her. They write of “finding” Brigid whether she met them in Canada or on a shoreline at sunrise. One poem leaves offerings to Brigid in the form of tears. A couple poems speak to Brigid the shapeshifter – as Maiden, Mother, and Crone. One connects with her as a midwife. 

The works resonated with me on so many levels, in their diversity, some personal and some more “educational,” but through all of the words and images, one cannot deny the honor and love dedicated to Brigid. 

In the “Goddess in Nature” section, I especially liked the piece on Brighid as Water Goddess (spellings of her name vary), detailing the Irish folk practices dedicated to her at the site of sacred springs and wells that continue to this day. Clooties, or strips of fabric are dipped in these waters and hung nearby in a tree with the belief that through the process of magical healing the illness would transfer from the person to the cloth which would eventually disintegrate. The author, Annwyn Avalon also writes on how one can create their own sacred well to place on an altar to Brigid. 

In the section “Rituals Practices and Prayers”, I was drawn to the “Honey and Beeswax Healing Spell” by Cairelle Crow. I look forward to doing the spell for myself and also for a few loved ones, with their consent, of course. “The Bed Blessing Before Sleep” by H. Byron Ballard (adapted from Carmichael) is a beautiful and soothing blessing that I have begun saying at bedtime. 

I loved “Cooking for Brigid” by Dawn Autora Hunt, which is in the “Goddess of Hearth and Home” section. I related to her telling of first encountering Brigid as a saint, growing up in and Italian Catholic family. As Dawn found a “pagan path” she writes of her honoring Brigid at Imbolc, lighting candles and cooking hearty foods. I will try her accompanying recipe of Shepherd’s Pie when the Wheel turns to Imbolc in February. 

In the “Mothers and Daughters” section, I particularly loved the story of the “Granddaughter of the Well” by Yeshe Matthews which recounted her serendipitous trip to Ireland when she was in graduate school. Her “knowingness” of how to arrive at places that she had never before visited brought her to Kildare, to Brigid’s well and the monastery. 

The book concludes with a prayer “written over shared cups of tea and tales of ancestors, and is infused with our deep love of the goddess.”4 The editors, Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella, leave the reader with the hope that the concluding prayer and the words within the book, “bring you bright blessings.”5

I highly recommend Brigid’s Light, both as a way to get to know the multi-faceted Brigid and also for the many ways that you can invite her to walk life’s path with you. Blessed Be.

A Spellbook for the Seasons, by Tudorbeth

A Spellbook for the Seasons: Welcome Natural Change with Magical Blessings, by Tudorbeth
Red Wheel Weiser, 9781590035375, 224 pages, March 2022

It’s always wonderful to step into a new season. How inspiring to embrace the changes in the natural world – differences in the light, the weather, the plants, the holidays. A Spellbook for the Seasons: Welcome Natural Change with Magical Blessing by Tudrobeth is a companion to the seasons that will greatly enhance your experiences and show you in so many ways how we are connected to the natural world.

Tudorbeth invites the reader to embrace the seasons and to “investigate these festivals (that are celebrated), the practical magic that flows through our seasons, and the gods that rule over the different times of the year.”1 I particularly liked that the book opens with two blessings: one for sisters and brothers around the world and one for the seasons and the turning of the wheel of the year.

The book is divided into the four seasons, with focus on each season’s garden, crystals, goddesses and gods, and spells, blessings and rituals. As I read the book in the spring, I focused most of my attention on that season. The spring months are associated with the Celtic deities such as Ostara, Belenus (Beltaine), and Brigid. The spring’s spells, blessings, and rituals include those for encouraging flowering in the garden, a daisy love ritual, and Ostara fresh air spell.

I performed the Ostara ritual on Ostara Eve, as the ritual is meant to embody hope, and then I made Ostara magic salt on the night of the full moon in March. When sprinkled around the home or office, it ensures bright ideas and business success. I now have my jar of pink salt sitting in a glass jar, ready for use! I enjoyed following Tudorbeth’s guidance and felt these small magical acts really attuned me to the energies of the season of spring.

For spring cleaning, there’s a small section on decluttering. I loved the Charm of Manannan. As Tudorbeth explains, the Celtic god, Manannan is a “foster father to the many children he takes under his care, and as a protector god he cares deeply for his children.”2 The Charm of Manannan is meant to bring about a loving and caring family home environment.

Additionally, there are rain blessings and rain energy spells that are meant to be done in a spring rainfall. The section on Beltane traditions provided an overview of Beltane, a cleansing detox ritual, and a spring sage clearing ritual. The Charm of Belenus is meant to be done toward the end of spring. The Charm is meant to invoke a happy, fun, and prosperous environment.

My recommendation for using this book to full advantage is to read the section on the upcoming season prior to the season’s arrival so that you have time to gather the items needed for the spells. While some might need to be collected at the last minute, such as flower-specific items, you can be prepared with other items such as salts, colored candles, essential oils, and shells. And then take your time in the season, experimenting with what you’re drawn to.

The sections on the season-specific garden offered suggestions on bringing wonder and magic into your outdoor space and inviting in the fairies. For spring, they include bluebells, hyacinth, and lily of the valley. As spring is associated with rain and showers, Tudorbeth focused on the power of the rainbow, and the suggested crystals include the colors of spring that form a pentagram of rainbows. The five spring crystals are rainbow opal, rainbow moonstone, rainbow obsidian, rainbow pyrite, and rainbow quartz.

The one downside for me was that some of the items were not readily available where I live such as periwinkle flowers or hawthorn twigs but again, with advance notice (e.g. reading the season in advance) I probably could have searched them out.

The other seasons are also given justice. Summer focuses on love, featuring Aphrodite and Apollo, a spell to welcome nymphs into the garden, Midsummer salt, a Lammas gratitude ritual, and a ritual for Midsummer enchantment. For Autumn, among other things, there is a clarity spell, an equinox healing ritual, a Mabon success spell, a Charm of Minerva (one of the three Roman deities who rule over the Autumn months), and a Samhain remembrance potion. Winter offers a first snow spell, an ice wand consecration ritual (if you are able to get an icicle), a Charm of Odin, midwinter tea, and an Imbolc ritual.

The most amazing part of A Spellbook for the Seasons is all the colorful, informative pictures. This is a gorgeous book to have on a table in your home because of the aesthetics that make it soothing to read through. The beauty of this book naturally entices one to want to perform with all the potent magic within. I really enjoyed the many hand-drawn illustrations, along with how the text on each page was simple and elegant. There is no clutter in the book, making it easy to focus on the spellwork or ritual you’re performing.

Tudorbeth is a hereditary practitioner of the Craft. The rules and gifts of herb lore, scrying, healing, tasseomancy, numerology, and candle magic have been passed down to her through several generations. I especially loved her reminder that we are meant to “use the gift that nature brings with these spells, but in return give something back … We are all connected to one another and everything around us. We are nature.”3 I highly recommend A Spellbook for the Seasons with encouragement to plan ahead to be able to use the knowledge imparted within its pages to full advantage.

Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards, by Swan Treasure

Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards, by Swan Treasure
Findhorn Press, 9781644113745, 44 cards, 159 pages, March 2022

I have used many oracle decks since I was first introduced to them three decades ago; some resonate with me and some don’t. However, the Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards by Swan Treasure had an immediate energy to them that I had never before experienced when first introduced to a deck. I had a strong feeling that there were many nature spirits and energies present that seemed to spill out of the box as I held the deck. 

Findhorn is not new to me. I had read quite a few books on this magical place in Scotland and how the nature spirits worked with the ecovillage’s founders Eileen and Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean on a barren landscape. With the help and direction of nature spirits beautiful gardens were created which eventually developed into a “planetary village” and the Findhorn Foundation which has a “spiritual lineage of cooperation with the subtle realms.”1

“The land surrounding the Findhorn community is indeed a blessed place, tended by a host of powerful and benevolent spirit forces.”2

Treasure worked with the subtle realms to write and illustrate this deck. The author bio reads:  “Her life is dedicated to raising human consciousness through co-creative spirituality so that we can remember, experience, and awaken the beauty of being fully alive on this planet.”3

The deck was “born” in 2018 at the Co-Creative Spirituality conference at the Findhorn Foundation. The pictures on the deck came through using a “meditative technique called touch-drawing”4 using only the hands and fingernails on tissue paper placed on a board on top of colors.  Spirit beings were invited to participate in the co-creation of the deck.

“The messages that have been received in connection with each of the spirit beings depicted in the cards encourage us to reconnect with our essential nature, to expand our awareness to new realities, to activate our full vital energy, and to engage our power of co-creation with the divine, opening to the joy of partnership with the subtle realms.”5

Each card image represents a spirit made visible to us in an understandable way. 

The deck follows the shamanic medicine wheel and the cards within the wheel can be used as a “tool to access the support and assistance of the spiritual realms both as a path for self-actualization and for divination purposes.”6

Treasure emphasizes patience and time in getting to know the energy of the deck. She recommends at least eight weeks to connect with these subtle realms, to experience the practices of the cards, and to enter the gateways of these energy portals. She also recommends that one asks permission before entering these spaces, with words such as “Am I allowed?”7. Swan also provides  details on consecrating the deck, and how to initiate opening and closing ceremonies when using the deck, all centering on spending time with these energies, not rushing, and extending respect to these guides. 

The deck consists of six sets of seven cards, each set representing a gathering of spirit beings associated with the four directions of the medicine wheel plus the directions of above and below. Within each set of seven there are three “significant” cards: a guardian spirit, a turning point, and a spirit akin to an animal or flower. She offers card layouts and types of readings, including the Shapeshifter Reading, The Essence Reading, and The Chakra Alignment Reading. There is a description for each card that includes a communication from the spirit, a focus, and a practice. 

The card illustrations are subtle and beautifully colored in tones that match the message of the spirit attached to the card. The Blessings card holds the appearance of a figure cloaked in white with what could be branches or hair emanating from the being’s head flowing upward. The predominance of the color green in the card is highlighted with bits of purple, the message being “let your presence be a blessing.”8

This card represents the Angel of Findhorn, who reminds us that we are living miracles. The focus of the card is on laughter, homecoming, and miracles. The practice encourages making drawings of angels and writing on them, “you are loved, I bless you”9 and signing them as the Angel of Findhorn.

The Victory card kept appearing in my work with the deck. Victory comes from the Realm Above with the message that the “warrior within uses resistance to awaken.”10 The colors of the card are various shades of green flecked with yellows, blues, and spots of red. The face of a strong figure predominates.

Victory represents the spirit of inclusivity that encourages one to “quiet down, go within, drop the survival fears that keep you enslaved.”11 The focus is on respect, balance, and contribution. The practice encourages a reflective pause. 

I highly recommend Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards. I’ve absolutely loved connecting with these cards. This deck has a very powerful elemental energy that results in accurate, heartfelt messages. It’s perfect for the springtime, as the nature spirits are in full bloom. If you do decide to get yourself a copy, I strongly suggest that you take the time to experience all that it offers as it introduces you to the unseen realms that have chosen to work with us.

Angelology, by Angemi Rabiolo and Iris Biasio

Angelology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Celestial Superheroes, by Angemi Rabiolo and Iris Biasio
Red Wheel, 978159003529-0, 287 pages, March 2022

Described as a pop-illustrated encyclopedia, Angelology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Celestial Superheroes by Angemi Rabiolo (author) and Iris Biasio (illustrator) is an introduction to the angelic realm that presents them as celestial superheroes, much like your favorite comic strip. The book covers angels from various religions and belief systems, and its aim is to “accompany readers on a spiritual journey to discover the power of angels.”1

The central theme of the book resonated with me, namely, “the idea of completing a path – a path that begins with God and leads to humans through the hierarchy of the angels.”2 Although, I’m not convinced that path is completed, for me it is more so walking the path, coming to a point, and then re-walking another path, this still resonated. The author encourages the reader to work with the angels on one’s spiritual evolution. Questions that generally accompany such an evolution include asking who am I, what is love, why is there suffering in my life (specifically) and in the world (generally).

And the Rabiolo and Biasio definitely met their intent of arousing curiosity and stimulation new reflections. The book is not a traditional angel encyclopedia in that the book’s purpose was not meant to “include everything ever written about angels.”3 The writings do, however, drawn on a variety of sources including angels found in the Bible, the Book of Enoch, the Koran, and from non-monotheistic religions such as those found in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Persian belief systems. The hierarchy of these beings of pure spirit is described from the Divine to the human. Included are writings on guardian angels as well as angels associated with certain zodiac signs and planets.

Eleven archangels are profiled as are 213 angels found in various religions traditions in angelic order. Archangels each have a specific task that “influences the existence of every human, and their incessant work permits humans to live their earthly life and to achieve spiritual fulfillment.”4

A Symbol Legend is provided for the archangels and the angels that shows Powers, Classifications in Islamic Tradition, Classification in Catholic Tradition, Classification in Hebrew Tradition, Belonging to the list of guardian angels according to Classification according to apocryphal texts and ancient astrology, theological, and theosophical traditions, as well as esoteric traditions, including evocative magic, peasant culture, and mystery religions, and Belonging to the list of guardian angels according to the Jewish-Catholic classification.”5

The section on the archangels contains more information that on that of the “regular” angels including the respective “power” of the archangel. It’s substantial in its information and includes a blue page for each archangel that writes about a topic pertinent to that specific archangel. For example, the blue page on Uriel describes why this archangel is not one of the archangels recognized by the Catholic Church. Since Sandalphon is the archangel associated with the Earth, the blue page on Sandalphon touches on the Elementals, the spirits of Earth’s elements.

The section on the 213 angels provides one page on each, including the meaning of the angel’s name and its powers. Other information might be its associated zodiac sign (Adnachiel for Sagittarius) or planet (Takiel for Jupiter), who it is the guardian angel of (Manakel for people born between February 15-19).

I enjoyed Biasio’s illustrations that portrayed angels as superheroes as would be found in a comic book. The main colors of yellow, red, and blue made the images pop. The image of Laylahel who governs all nocturnal phenomena, has a figure opening a blue cloak the inside of which is covered in a yellow moon and stars. Hesediel, the archangel of desire and benevolence is portrayed holding a cornucopia from which coins fall. All are fun!

I recommend Angelology as an introductory to the angelic realm. It provides a great overview and is chock full of angels (over 200!) from which one can choose to work with on any area of interest. If you want to work with the Zodiac angels, you’re covered. The planets? You’re covered. Areas such as generosity, peace, or relationships? You’re covered. However, if you are looking for deeper work with the angels, this book does not contain things such as affirmations or meditations on the angels. The book presents the angels in a non-threatening manner and as such it invites the reader to open up to working with these beings who are here, of course, to guide us.

Affirmations of Light in Times of Darkness, by Laura Aversano

Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness: Healing Messages from a Spiritwalker, by Laura Aversano
Inner Traditions, 9781644112717, 174 pages, June 2021

We all need to be reminded that we don’t walk through this life alone; that there is spiritual guidance afforded to us if we listen to our intuition. There are also people among us, spiritwalkers, who also offer us such guidance and reminders. Laura Aversano is such a spiritwalker. In her book, Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness: Healing Messages from a Spiritwalker, Aversano provides the reader with “activated” prayers and affirmations on eight major topics: light calling from the abyss, forgiveness, courage and grace, the pause, balance, reconciliation, changes of worlds, and healing voices from the pandemic.

Aversano comes from a line of seers or spiritwalkers. In her encouragement for the reader to remain in the present, Aversano states that “holding space has become a discipline for me and for my writing. And that is what I hope to achieve when you read my words – the ability to hold space in both the darkness and the light for us to heal individually and collectively.”1

At first glance one might be tempted to quickly read through the book as it has some affirmations that are very short. Other guidance is offered through a synopsis of what was experienced by her work with clients. Still other writings offer her observations on the world at hand. But these writing are anything but simple. They are multi-layered, giving one pause for thought. They are to be savored before being digested and absorbed into one’s psyche and daily practice.

In reading my reading, I sometimes found myself reading just a one-line affirmation and then closing the book to ponder what I read. Other times I enjoyed immersing myself in the topic at hand. She writes a lot on communicating with the “darkness” for as the darkness says, “you are as much afraid of me as you are of your light.”2

She walks with the reader through fear, anger, and one’s seeming powerlessness, offering a way to experience things in a more empowering manner. Her writings guide the reader to feel empowered by the beings of light that we all are. She encourages us to remember how powerful we are as these beings of light, if only we believe it. One beautiful line reads:

“The sun never realized the light of its own being until it paused one day to see all that blossomed in its path.”3

I found myself saying “yes” as I read her words, her suggestions, and her soulful prayers.

“When the mountain seems too difficult to climb, some choose to change their path. I choose to change my shoes.”4

A strong line, certainly, but how can I change my shoes in my own life? The writings are prompts, bits of encouragement, and constant reminding of how supported we are, but that we need to take this support to make changes.

“One of the greatest challenges you will ever face is the struggle against your own unworthiness.”5

When we truly believe ourselves to be worthy of love and peace in our lives, then we can move through challenges such as forgiveness and anger.

Aversano engages the reader throughout the entire book. She’s like a true best friend who helps to see you through the hard times, is your greatest cheerleader, calls you on your delusions, and refuses to come to your pity party. But like any best friend she does so without judgment. She engages the reader with every line, with every story. You can put the book down and pick it up where you left off – but hopefully as a bit more radiant being to the world. She reminds us that “You don’t chase dreams. You live them. You chase illusion.”6

She asks us to trust our hearts, to notice our perceptions of things, to not be afraid of how powerful we are. As you use her words to change your life, to change your perceptions, you might notice people leaving your circle. “When people leave your life, it’s not because they can’t be in your personal space. It’s because they can’t be in their own space while they are with you.”7

Through her writing, I’ve come to view Aversano as an elder, even though she is too young in her chronological age to be considered such, for as she writes, “An elder doesn’t show you the path. He shows you your strength, so you can walk the path.”8

I highly recommend Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness. Aversano’s words are a balm to a weary soul, a lighthouse in times of darkness, a reminder of the light within that we all possess. Her writings empower the reader to remove the dust and dirt that have clouded the light of our being. Sit with the book and then do the words justice by making them part of your life.