Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review and Promo: Mrs. B's Guide to Household Witchery

Review:  I couldn't wait to curl up with this excellent book, and I wasn't disappointed.  Usually, I read craft manuals in small chunks, but I flew through Mrs. B's Guide to Household Witchery.  Kris Bradley has provided wonderful spells and rituals that any witch can do.  Although she doesn't spend a lot of time on Magic 101, Bradley does offer an excellent herbal section with culinary and magical correspondences, as well as an in-depth exploration of household deities from around the world.

Told with an intelligent, conversational tone, Mrs. B's Guide to Household Witchery is bound to become one of your favorite magical tools.  Bradley shows, over and over, how easy it is to incorporate a magical and spiritual practice into your mundane life.  I especially like the section on the Sabbats.  Anything that makes magic more accessible is important, and Bradley has certainly done that!  A great read, especially for witchy women trying to balance the demands of home and family and still add sparks to their lives.

In addition to my review, I've got a real treat for you today: Kris Bradley dropped by to show us how to practice junk drawer divination.  Plus, you'll find a giveaway at the bottom of the post.  Enjoy!

Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery: Everyday Magic, Spells, and Recipes
By Kris Bradley

Genre: New Age/ Wicca

Publisher: Weiser Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC
ISBN: 978-1-57863-515-3

Number of pages: 224
Word Count: 49,000

Cover Artist: Jim Warner

Amazon   B&N

Book Description:
For domestic goddesses everywhereadd some magic and fun to those mundane household chores with Mrs. B.'s Guide to Household Witchery. Whether you're sweeping the floor, making a meal, or cleaning out that junk drawer, domestic witch Kris Bradley, creator of the popular blog, Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, will show you how to create spells and magic to bring happiness and balance into your home.
Bradley offers ideas and solutions to make the most out of everyday items, activities, and obligations. From Anchovies to Broccoli, and Wine to Yeast, from sweeping the floor to blow-drying your hair, you can change your outlook on life with a pinch of knowledge and a dash of magic! The book includes simple rituals, spells, and ways to connect with the spirits that watch over your home and family. Includes an appendix of herbs and a complete materia magica from the kitchen pantry.
Mrs. B's Guide to Household Witchery features:
        Room by Room: How to create magic while you cook, set up a family altar in the living room, or do a junk drawer divination
        The Elements for the Domestic Witch: a primer on the 4 elements and how to balance them in your home
        The Domestic Witch's Herbal: Magical uses for every herb and food in your pantry, as well as instant magic with prepackaged spice mixes
        Simple Sabbats for the Busy Witch: simple ways to celebrate the passing of the seasons
Magical Recipes: More than 100 recipes and spells

GUEST POST: Junk Drawer Divination
-Kris Bradley

October is the perfect time of year to work some divination for the rest of the year. Tarot cards, runes, tea leaf reading - they are all wonderful ways to take a peek into the possible future. If you are lacking in divination tools, you only have to look as far as that junk drawer that most of us have in our desk or kitchen somewhere.

What you’ll need:
A small bag or box to gather your items
A notebook and a pen to keep track of your personal item meanings and readings
Assorted items from your junk drawer, old board games, or the bottom or your purse or backpack

What to do:
Assign each item it’s specific meaning. Hold each item and tell it what it’s meaning will be. For example, hold a coin (for prosperity) in your hand and say, “I name you prosperity! You represent financial success.” Write down the meanings you give to each item in your journal. Assign one item to represent the person you will be reading for. Also be aware of what you will consider the “front” and “back” of an item. If there’s no obvious sides, place a small mark to

To do a reading, gather all your items into your bag. Ask a specific question, if you have one. Tilt the bag over and spill the contents onto a flat surface. Find what represents you or the person you are reading for and see what’s closest to it. These are the things that will affect you the most in the near future. The things furthest away will be less influential.

Here are some ideas for things to add to your bag to get you started:
Cork: Good cheer or festive get-togethers
Ring: A commitment to something or someone
Matchstick: A good omen. If any unlucky objects are near, it voids them
Key: A new beginning or the opening or unlocking of something
Toy car or small toy train: When close to the item that represents the person you are reading for, it represents an accident of some kind. When farther away, it represents travel or a long journey.

Happy divining!

About the Author:
Kris Bradley is the magic behind the popular blog Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom (2500 readers). She helped establish The Sisterhood of the Triple Goddess coven in Keyport, NJ and is a legally ordained minister, in addition to being a witchy wife and mother. Her work on domestic witchery has been featured in and as a national column for She lives in Keyport, NJ.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Goddess Goodies: Abundant Cider

For me, baking and playing in the kitchen are a part of my spiritual practice.  Maybe it's my natural kitchen-witchery showing through, or maybe it's because of the warm memories I have of learning to bake with my mom and grandma.  For whatever reason, I love crafting warm, gooey goodness that I can share with my family and friends in the spirit of the Goddess.

It's finally, obviously fall: the nights are sharp and cold, and in the mornings, the sun warms everything until the smell of woodsmoke lingers just on the edge of my nose.  It's my favorite time of year, and as the harvest season winds down, I wanted to celebrate abundance while staying cozy and warm.

And that's how Abundant Cider was born!

This works for individual servings, or a large group.

1. Heat some apple cider (in the microwave for a single serving, on the stove top for a vat)
2. Stir in a tablespoon of honey or caramel sauce for each person who will drink (for one cup, just one TBSP will do).
3. Sprinkle cinnamon liberally on top of the cider as you stir.
4.  Dedicate your drink to the abundant goddess of your choice: Demeter, Lakshmi, and Fortuna are the ones who leap into my mind, but there are countless others.
5. Drink and enjoy!

How will you ingest the abundance of the season?

Blessed be!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Call for Submissions: Queen of Heaven

I am thrilled to announce that I'll be editing a devotional anthology to the Queen of Heaven.  Submissions for A Mantle of Stars: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of the Queen of Heaven open on November 5, 2012, and will close on April 1, 2013.  Poetry, rituals, and research are all welcomed.
"What does this Goddess mean to you?  Perhaps you offer cakes to her on each full moon, as so many of the ancients did.  Or perhaps you have seen her serene face in church for years and felt a tug towards her majesty.  The Queen of Heaven is a powerful Goddess, but she is not cruel: even in her virgin aspects, this Goddess is a global mother to the children of the earth.  She is not a Lady to cross, however: there are countless tales of justice being served at Her hand.  Fierce as a lion, gentle as a dove, the Queen of Heaven is ever present, as long as we are beneath Her sky. We need only look up to see her beauty."  (From the call for submissions)

For more information, check out the submission page over at Neos Alexandria.

This is such a heart project for me.  As an archetype, the Queen of Heaven is my primary devotional figure.  I'm dedicated to one of the goddesses who bears that title (Isis), and I'm fascinated by the many faces this powerful goddess has worn throughout history.  

The archetype is rich, and I can't wait to see what is contributed to the devotional: what an amazing opportunity, to birth this project.  I am thrilled.

Will you be submitting?  Spread the word!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: THE IRON WITCH by Karen Mahoney

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read the first book in Karen Mahoney’s Ironwood series for some time, and I finally got around to it this week. What a great vacation read!

Donna has been raised by a powerful group of alchemists, the Order of the Dragon. All her life, she’s kept their secrets, but when wood elves begin attacking her within the boundaries of the city, Donna can no longer stay silent. She confides in her best friend, Navin, but the confession only brings trouble into his life. With the help of the mysterious Xan, Donna must embark on a dangerous quest that will test her loyalty to the order and to the memory of her parents. She can make a bargain with the elves who are the Order’s sworn enemies, or she can lose her best friend forever.

With many secrets still buried at the end of this excellent novel, I am hungry for the rest of the series. I’d love to swap writer stories with Karen Mahoney someday: she seems to love twisting myth and fairy tale as much as I do.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Inspired by Brigid

I spent the last week in a small pine cabin somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.  I was attending a writing workshop with an emphasis on storytelling through verse, so it's no wonder I started thinking about Brigid.

One of the first goddesses I ever discovered, Brigid has long held a powerful place in my heart.  I'm a poet, a dreamer, a fire-keeper, and this Celtic goddess-turned-saint really speaks to me.

Brigid (some people pronounce her name "Bride", and there are infinite spellings) is a triple goddess: she embodies maiden, mother, and crone aspects, and she's the patron of poets and smiths.  She's also associated with newborn lambs, and her feast day of Imbolc/Candlemass honors the first glimpse of spring.

Even though the mountains of Pennsylvania were caught in the depths of a beautiful fall while I was there, Brigid was on my mind.  The group of passionate poets (nineteen talented women) gathered around a roaring fire each night to sip wine and swap stories, and each morning, the scent of wet pine and woodsmoke filled the air.

The inspiration I found there is still working its way through me, and I am so thankful to have had this one beautiful week to set my worries and my reality aside and immerse myself in poetry.  There is no better way to honor Brigid then by honoring your own creative flame.

What creativity waits in you?  How do you honor Brigid?

Blessed be! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: MOON MYSTERIES by Nao Sims and Nikiah Seeds

Moon Mysteries by Nao Sims
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nao Sims and Nikiah Seeds have crafted a quietly empowering book. Filled with art, poetry, and prose, Moon Mysteries seeks to empower women by exploring the menstrual cycle from a place of love and joy. I wish I had read this in my feminist hey-day in college, but I still enjoyed the book and the suggestions Sims and Seeds put forward for self-care.

There are even some recipes, rich with iron and other nutrients: I really want to try the recipe for Dark Chocolate Beet Cake.

If you are a woman, this is a book you should read, whatever your comfort level with your body and your cycle. It is empowering and lovely. As I said, I wish I had read this when I was younger.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 8, 2012

Goddess Goodies: Treasure Brownies

For me, baking is a spiritual practice.  Maybe it's my natural kitchen-witchery showing through, or maybe it's because of the warm memories I have of learning to bake with my mom and grandma.  For whatever reason, I love crafting warm, gooey goodness that I can share with my family and friends in the spirit of the Goddess.

 Even though I like to bake from scratch, sometimes, life doesn't allow it.  That doesn't mean I have to ignore my kitchen witchery: this easy brownie recipe is fast and fabulous.

I love dark, decadent deserts, and there are plenty of goddesses who would agree with me.  Take your pick of dark ladies to celebrate with these Treasure Brownies: I like to make these for Hecate, but you can make them for Kali or Spider Woman.  Remember, it's the intention that counts!
 You will need:
1 box of regular brownie mix
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
18 peanut butter cups (smaller than a muffin cup)

Muffin tins and cooking spray

1. Prepare the brownies as directed on the mix, but add two eggs instead of one (this makes the brownies more like brownie-cupcakes, which is perfect for our purposes.)

2. Unwrap eighteen peanut butter cups.  Use this step to set your intention: think about the value of things hidden in the darkness, and give thanks to the dark goddess of your choice for her presence in your life.

3.  Spray the muffin pans and fill them halfway with brownie mix.

4. Place one peanut butter cup in the center of each filled muffin cup, pressing down gently.

5.  Bake following the directions on the box (usually 30 minutes will do it).

6.  Cool on a wire rack.

Share these goodies with your tribe, and enjoy.  Blessed be!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: RED IS FOR REMEMBRANCE by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Red is for Remembrance by Laurie Faria Stolarz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I used to work at Barnes and Noble, I was drawn to this series by Laurie Stolarz. I kept meaning to read it, but somewhere in between work and school, that never happened. I finally picked this one up, and I wish I'd read it sooner! Again, I started at the backwards end of a series (woops), but it was easy to get into the world, and I loved it.

Stacey is in mourning. She delayed her college admittance by a semester, but she still isn't over the death of her first love Jacob. To make matters worse, his body was never found, so Stacy clings to the fragile hope that he is still alive somewhere. But eventually, she'll have to move on, and when she meets with the college president, she learns why she's really there.

Her scholarship is a sham: the president has a young daughter who sees things. Her dreams and visions upset her, but the president has heard about Stacey, and knows that she's in a similar boat. He wants her to help Porsha, his daughter, deal with her own budding telepathy. But Porsha and Stacey may have more in common than he realizes, and together the girls work to prevent a murder from happening. Their quest for justice will lead them far from the campus, to a cult-esque commune in the woods.

I loved everything about this story. It's well-paced, the characters are resonate, and Stacey presents a thoughtful portrayal of a Wiccan protagonist that's hard to find. All in all, this is an excellent read, and I have no doubt the rest of the series would be just as captivating.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 1, 2012

Thresholds: Walking with Hecate

This season is always one of transition, but sometimes, periods of transition give way to standing around in liminal space.  The image of the threshold is very powerful: you cross one every time you leave your bedroom, your house, every time you pass from one place to another.  We wander over infinite thresholds in our lives, most of the time without even noticing that a change has taken place.

But sometimes, we slow down, whether by choice or by circumstance, and instead of striding confidently across the threshold, we find ourselves hovering.  One foot in the past, one foot in the future, or, more commonly, each foot in a distinctly different place.  Straddling a threshold can be scary, not just for the lack of movement, but also for the feeling of division.

Hecate knows all about this conflict.  She can bridge the lands of the living and the dead, the mortals and the immortals, but she doesn't really seem to fit in anywhere she goes.  She's powerful, make no mistake about that, but this dark triple goddess doesn't have a place to call her own.

Except thresholds.

Hecate claims liminal space with pride, lingering between worlds with ease.  When your life feels divided or you feel like you've stopped moving forward, consider talking to Hecate.  As a goddess without ties or boundaries, Hecate is arguably one of the more powerful mythic figures that we know.  She moves effortlessly between eras and cultures, shifting from Ancient Greece to medieval Europe with ease.  She's even making her way into modern pop culture and literature: this is one goddess who doesn't know her place, and that's a beautiful part of her strength: she refuses to be limited.

What can we learn from Hecate?

There's power in lingering on the threshold.  Hecate demonstrates this.  But sometimes, it's hard to linger.  Consider your time in transition as a time to learn, to absorb, to observe.  Hecate's power stems not only from her fluidity, but from the fact that she sees everything: when Demeter lost her daughter, Hecate was the one who pieced the clues together.  If you find yourself hovering over a threshold, savor that time.  You have entered Hecate's realm, and there is much to learn from her.

Do you ever feel trapped between worlds or choices?  How have you dealt with feelings of liminal and limitless space?

Blessed be!