Surrendering

Since the release of his book, Surrender, I’ve been thinking about this concept that Bono talks about in so many different ways. In one tale, presented live on the “The Late Show” (see video below) it really struck a chord within me (pun totally intended).

He talked about how he had (and still has) to approach his wife of 40 years within such terms. He spoke of approaching her like this: “Only if you arrive at her fort defenceless, do you have half a chance in challenging her own, almost unbroachable defences”.

I thought that this was utterly beautiful. It could be applied to so much in life, not just your loved one. For me, it’s about being authentic, about being truly and utterly you, to whomever it is you are trying to connect with. It could be your life partner, your parents, your children, your gods, your ancestors, your community.

When approaching the gods, there is no point in putting up a mask, surrounding yourself with defences. They are gods. They see through all that crap. If you choose to open up your soul to a god, then there is no need for games, for duplicity or falsehoods of any kind. There is only you, and the deity.

It’s much the same with your life partner, family, ancestors, even those of your community. Those who think that they are fooling you with guises and masks are only fooling themselves. People are more perceptive than many think. We know when something or someone is “off”, it’s just that often we choose to ignore that instinct.

Authenticity is about surrender. It’s about being utterly human, being utterly you. It’s acknowledging the good and the bad and everything in between. It’s about working towards being the best person you can be, without masks, without disguises.

This doesn’t mean you have to let go of all boundaries. But if you truly want to connect on a soul-deep level, it is about being totally, utterly you. Letting down your defences also allows those to come to your aid. Keep them up, and they keep everything and everyone out.

The concept of surrender, and of defences, is one that I am going to chew over for quite some time this winter. In the stillness and silence of a winter’s day, in the overarching darkness of a long winter’s night, I am taking this to heart and really experiencing what it is to live in this manner. It will will, I think, open up new ways of living and being that before were only imagined.

This winter, I am surrendering.

Paperback pushed back…

Release date for the paperback version of The Path of the Hedge Witch has been pushed back due to backlog at the printers. We’re now looking at November 8 release for the paperback. Kindle version still looks to be on track for and October 8 release though!

Book Review: The Druid Path: A Modern Tradition of Nature Spirituality by John Michael Greer

The Druid Path: A Modern Tradition of Nature Spirituality by John Michael Greer

Published by Sterling Ethos, 2021

This book is a great introduction to Druidry. I love a hardcover book, and this little gem published by Sterling Ethos is a really nice production. The corded cover with embossed title, the interior illustrations and the overall print quality is superb. We need more Pagan books that pay attention not only to the content, but also to the print quality and aesthetic! This book will last a long time, for sure. It’s in a nice almost square format too, which is different. It is an introductory book, so it doesn’t go into great length on any given subject, but it does cover all the essentials necessary to begin your path of Druidry.

It is divided into four sections: Part One looks at the sources of Druidry, including the ancient Druids, the Druid Revival and Modern Druidry. This brief history of Druidry covers all the essentials, as well as some new things that I have never come across, including William Stukeley’s elephants (you’ll just have to read the book for more on that one). I am also pleased to see a section on Women in Druidry.

Part Two looks at the Druid teachings, the different strands of Druidry and exercises to help one not just read about it, but also turn it into personal wisdom through experience. The section on “The Two Currents” I had not come across before in my own Druid learning. This chapter discusses the solar current and the earth’s telluric current and how to incorporate that into your practice.

Part Three is the practice of Druidry, an essential section that really shows how Druidry is a living practice, something that must be done, not just read about. I especially like Greer’s words on Druidry as a craft:

“Druidry is not an ideology. Like basketry, forestry, and many other words that end with –ry, it can be best understood as a craft. You don’t become a basket maker or a forester by believing some set of opinions. You become a basket maker by learning and practising basketry, and you become a forester by learning and practising forestry. In the same way, you become a Druid by learning and practicing the craft of Druidry. One of the things this means is that becoming a Druid isn’t an all-or-nothing matter. You start becoming a Druid as soon as you begin learning some elements of the Druid craft, and you keep on becoming a Druid as long as you keep studying and practicing that craft.”

In this section, Greer also introduces us to divination through the Coelbren alphabet, which is not used as much as the Irish ogham taught by many other Druid authors, teachers and organisations. This chapter also gives you some more daily practices and a couple of rituals to get you started.

Part four is about initiation into Druidry. The word initiation means “to begin” and so the ritual set out in this section provides the reader with a definitive point in time where they can say that they started out on the Druid path with directed intention to practice this craft to the best of their abilities. The self-initiation ritual is simple but poignant. Greer ends the book with the following words:

“A more important source of guidance than books and organizations, however, is the time you spend working with the basic practices of Druidry, listening to the One Life, and learning from nature. No one can do that for you. The only thing that limits how much you can learn and grow on the adventure of Druidry is your own willingness to pursue it.”

There is also a helpful glossary, bibliography, recommended resources and index.

I was very pleased with this little book that holds much wisdom. I’d recommend it to anyone starting out on the Druid path who wants a concise introduction contained within a beautifully printed publication.

Book review: Wicca Herbal Magic by Lisa Chamberlain

Wicca Herbal Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Herbal Spellcraft is another fine installment from Lisa Chamberlain in her series of books on Wicca. This one, as several others, is published by Sterling in their “Mystic Library”, a series of lovely introductory hardcover pocket books. I’ve reviewed two others in this series, and this latest one does not disappoint. I adore hardcover books, and the little pocket sizes are excellent for those just starting on the path. They provide enough content to give a basic grounding in the subject, as well as a beautiful layout that really pleases the eye and captures and reflects the written contents of the book. I love these little books!

Lisa Chamberlain’s writing is excellent, as ever.* I liked the way that this book was laid out in three sections. The first is “The Ancient Art of Herbalism”, which contains a kind of short history of herbalism and its shamanic practices, as well as a look at the ancient system of correspondences and the aspects of Hermetics that relate to working with plants (and indeed many magical systems).

The second part of the book, the practical section, looks at thirteen herbs that can be used magically (as well as some of the better-known physical benefits that these provide). Most of these herbs many people already have in their cupboards or in their gardens, such as basil, bay laurel, cinnamon, dandelion, nutmeg, rosemary, sage and thyme. It shows us how we can work with herbs that have a long history in magical works, and without breaking the bank. On top of this, we have some wonderful tips on purchasing herbs, creating a magical garden, foraging, drying and storing herbs and how to use them magically (such as charging herbs before putting them to work).

Part three is an herbal grimoire, with recipes for magical teas which anyone can work with, magical baths, herb and candle spells, smudging, making oils and more. There are also rituals in this section such as blessings. At the end of this work, there is a brief overview of how to work with herbs in relation to astrology, which if you work with natal charts, the zodiac or planetary energy is perfect.

There are also handy tables of correspondences for quick reference at the end of the book.

All in all, this is a great little book to get you started working with our herbal allies. At just over 100 pages, it is not overwhelming and is easy to take in. Lisa’s writing style is informal but impeccable, and makes you want to learn more, try out the recipes and spells and get more involved with the work as a whole. It’s a great little gift for anyone interested in magical herbalism. I’ve been working with herbs for many years now, and I learned some new things in this book – with witchcraft, magic and herbalism, you never stop learning!

*For those in the Pagan community who still (wrongly) profess that Lisa Chamberlain is not a real person, (and the books are written by ghostwriters) it’s time to stop. She is real, she is lovely and I’ve spoken to her. It’s time this misinformation ends. She is a prolific writer, and good on her!

Book Review: Lisa Chamberlain’s Wicca for Beginners and Wicca Book of Spells

I had already read a couple of Lisa Chamberlain’s books, (five, actually!) and so was very happy to review the new editions of Wicca for Beginners and Wicca Book of Spells. My favourites to date had been Wicca Finding Your Path: A Beginner’s Guide to Wiccan Traditions, Solitary Practitioners, Eclectic Witches, Covens, and Circles and especially the audio version of Wicca Living a Magical Life: A Guide to Initiation, Self-Dedication and Navigating Your Journey in the Craft. These new editions from The Mystic Library (Sterling Publishing) did not disappoint.

First of all, I LOVE hardcover books. These little introductory books (they stand at around 130 – 160 pages) are beautifully bound in hardcover, with gorgeous artwork throughout. I love a book that also has illustrations and artwork, as I believe it’s important to engage the imagination and appreciate more than just the written word. Good artwork can lift a book, as anyone who has worked with colour correspondences alone can testify. Wicca for Beginners has a lovely blue theme running throughout, and Wicca Book of Spells a purple and pink theme. They are just so nice to hold in your hands, hardcovers. And they last a whole lot longer than paperbacks.

Wicca Beginners GuideWicca for Beginners: A Guide to Wiccan Beliefs, Rituals, Magic and Witchcraft does just what it says on the tin. It’s a great guide for someone new to the path, or for anyone who wants to refresh their learning. In fact, if I were to recommend a beginner’s book to anyone new to the path, this book as well as Scott Cunningham’s works would be my first choice. Chamberlain goes into history of the tradition, which is something that Cunningham’s books are seriously lacking. She uses language that is easy and flowing, friendly and unassuming. I really like that in books that teach about anything, as I am easily put off with pomposity and obscurity.

Indeed, this book covers everything neatly and precisely: how the path evolved, the history, core beliefs, working with the divine, the altar, tools and clothing, ritual components and magic, as well as advice for aspiring Wiccans. It really covers a lot of material in an easy to swallow format. The author has really done her research, and has walked her talk, sharing and expressing her knowledge with skill and clarity, as well as her plain common sense.

Wicca Book of SpellsWicca Book of Spells: A Beginner’s Book of Shadows for Wiccans, Witches and Other Practitioners of Magic again covers a wide range of material. While a couple of paragraphs on what a Book of Shadows is would have been nice, this tome dives straight into spellwork such as love spells (with the usual caveats on manipulation of individuals), prosperity spells, health and well-being spells and an eclectic mix of spellwork in the final chapter that includes kitchen witchery, elemental magic and more. Again, there is common sense and a good framework throughout this book to help the reader on their forays into the realms of spellcrafting. One small critique is that I would like to know if the spells included in the book are traditional, or if the inspiration came from somewhere historically. I have no qualms in new spells vs old spells, and I am a strong believer in working with what you’ve got to hand. This information may have been left out in the editing process, to keep the book to a size that works for beginners, though this is purely conjecture on my part. The spells were easy to follow and understand, and Chamberlain, like myself, is not averse to substitutions to make it work on a more personal level.

All in all, I found both these books really charming, and well written. Lisa Chamberlain was a pleasure to correspond with as well via email, and I look forward to more of her work in the future. I think she is a real asset to the Wiccan community, providing good information delivered in a friendly manner that everyone can understand and work with on any level. If you are just starting out, or know someone who is, or simply want to add to your book hoard of good books, then look up Lisa Chamberlain and her work – I recommend it all.

Audio version on The Book of Hedge Druidry Now Available!

Hello everyone! This is just a quick note to say that the audio/audible version of my latest book, The Book of Hedge Druidry, is now available! I’m very pleased with how this turned out – have a listen to the sample, and see what you think 🙂

Looking for Reviews!

Hi all! Just a quick note to let you know that we need reviews up on Amazon for my latest offering, The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker. If you are able to leave a review, it would be hugely appreciated! This is one of the best ways to help an author, as Amazon reviews follow specific algorithms, and after a certain number it pops up in newsletters, recommendations, etc. for better exposure. The more reviews the better! As well, it helps me personally in my writing to get feedback in order to improve with each book released.

Thank you all so much for your support, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Harvest blessings,

Jo. x

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Today is the Day!!!

hedge-druid-cover

The Book of Hedge Druidry is out in the UK and worldwide! I’m so pleased with how this book came out; it contains everything you need to know about the fundamentals of walking the Druid path, and hopefully opens the doors to new insights and new ways of being in the world. It’s been a labour of love, and I hope the gods, ancestors and all my readers are pleased with it!

Book Review: The Mythic Moons of Avalon by Jhenah Telyndru

mythic moonsJhenah Telyndru, founder of the Sisterhood of Avalon with an MA in Celtic studies, has just released the follow-up to her wonderful and empowering book, Avalon Within. Avalon Within frames a system of healing and empowerment for women everywhere, who feel called to the wisdom and lore of the mythical isle. With this new release, The Mythic Moons of Avalon, we go even deeper, forging a path of personal sovereignty through the tides of the moon, working with herbs and the goddesses of the Avalonian tradition.

Telyndru weaves a tapestry of incredible beauty, full of lore and history, tradition and inspiration. Whereas in Avalon Within, we find the Cycle of Healing, here we find the Cycle of Revealing, the next step on the path towards sovereignty of the self. Here is the path that no one can walk for you; instead, Telyndru provides signposts along the way to help us remember and reclaim the old lore of the Celtic Britons to weave into our lives for the modern day. She has created an entire system that one can follow that is whole and complete in and of itself, and which can be richly rewarding for anyone who feels the call to Avalon. Here is the knowledge, and it is what you do with it that matters more than anything.

Here we can build bridges to connect with the divine, learn from plant allies and explore herbal energies, and also connect through journeying and pathworking to a realm where real transformation can occur, both on the inner and outer levels. This book is a real treasure, and has been long-awaited by many. Thank you, Jhenah, for your words and wisdom!

It’s finally here in my hands!

Yesterday I received my sample copies of my new book coming out next month in North America, and in August worldwide. I’m so excited to see it, to be able to hold it. It’s big!!! And I’m proud of this work, being a complete guide to Druidry from a Hedge Druid’s perspective. Working with the Otherworld, the gods, the ancestors, the spirits of place in a solitary tradition, and re-enchanting the soul. You can pre-order copies now, and if you do from Amazon’s Smile site, a percentage is donated to charity as well. Order your copy HERE.

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