Reviews: The Witches’ Oracle and A Spellbook for the Seasons

When I received The Witches’ Oracle, I thought that the cover looked familiar. When I opened it up, I knew why: I had this very deck that was released around twenty years ago! Originally called The Wicca Pack, this wonderful deck has been re-released by Eddison Books as The Witches’ Oracle.

In actual fact, this was the first deck that I had ever bought about a decade into my Pagan journeys. And it was so easy to work with, and so accurate for my readings, that I’ve kept it all these years. This new version comes in a beautiful box with a picture of the Witches’ goddess, Aradia on the cover. They have streamlined the book now to correlate only to the deck, and have taken out the Wiccan practices that was in the original book. This makes sense, as now there are so many good books available on Wicca that you don’t need to combine the two.

I love these cards. The artwork is by Danuta Mayer, and it was written by Sally Morningstar. The new deck has cards the same size as the old deck, but these have a nice border which means that the artwork won’t get affected as much through decades of use. It contains cards that relate to Wicca and Witchcraft, such as the ritual tools used, animals and deities. It is certainly a very “witchy” deck, and I love it.

The book does contain a little more information than just the cards and their interpretation, such as a short history and tradition section, before diving right into the card meanings. There’s a final section on how to use different spreads. All in all, this is a wonderful deck, and I love both versions that I now have J

I also received A Spellbook for the Seasons, by Tudorbeth (aka Sarah Coyne). I have to say, I LOVE what they are doing with books these days. They are making books so beautiful again! This lovely hardcover comes filled with gorgeous artwork inside, and it truly is a pretty thing to have and to hold.

The layout of this book is quite different from other compendiums I have come across. It contains the usual material, such as the Wheel of the Year and the festivals, along with spellwork. What is different is that the author has chosen a different pantheon of deities for each section, such as Norse for winter, Celtic for spring, Greek for summer and Roman for autumn. This is a good introduction to different deities and allows the opportunity to work with different pantheons each season, and may bring new gods and goddesses into your work that you have never come across.

This book contains ceremonies that are coven-based, but which can be adapted for solitaries. Other ideas you might find in this book are things like a Sage Water House Cleanse for autumn, or a Sun Day Love Spell for summer. There’s an Ostara Magic Salt, and a Winter’s Morn strength spell. There’s a seasonal garden section, and a crystal section. All in all, this is a very attractive book, which may inspire you on your own magical journeys through the seasons, and is just a delight to flip through on a rainy day to cheer up the heart as well.

New YouTube series!

Hi all – just to let you know that I’ve got a new YouTube series, where I talk about the “witchier” side of my spirituality, what I do as a Witch and how I work with the forces of nature 🙂 Something similar, yet different, from my Druid work!

Simple Imbolc Celebration and Magic

Cover high resHere is an extract from my upcoming book, “The Hedge Druid’s Craft“, which is another introductory Pagan Portals book and is now available for pre-order.

Imbolc

Imbolc is a gentle festival, where we honour the first signs of Spring after a long winter. It has long been dedicated to the goddess Brighid who has associations with fire and water. Allow this time of year to fill your soul, the air still cold but the warmth of the light from the strengthening sun inspiring you to go out into the worlds and do the work that you have to do. You can light a candle to dedicate yourself at this time to your work, having spent the winter months thinking long and deeply about it. Now is the time to state your intention clearly. You can carve words or symbols into the candle that represent your work, and strew herbs around it to lend their energies (see A Basic Candle Spell below). As you light the candle, state your intention clearly, calling upon the ancestors and the Fair Folk, the gods and goddesses to bear witness. This is not an oath to be made lightly.

Meditate upon the candle’s flame for as long as you wish. Then take a bowl of spring water and anoint yourself with it. I like to collect water from Chalice Well and the White Spring in Glastonbury every time I visit, and I use this special, holy water for use in rituals and in spellcraft. You can draw the shape of a crescent moon upon your brow with the water, or place any other symbols which have meaning to you upon your body. It is also a good time for healing work, and anointing yourself with sacred water on areas of your body that need healing can kick-start the process (as well as following good medical and spiritual advice).

A Basic Candle Spell

Take a candle of an appropriate colour to use in your work. As a very basic guide, red is for love and passion, pink for emotions, blue for healing, green for the environment, brown for animals, yellow for inspiration, purple for magical strength, black for release of negativity. White candles are used for purification, as well as can be used to replace any other colour that you may not be able to obtain.

Sit with your candle and meditate upon the work that you wish to achieve. Then, stating your intention clearly, pour your energy into the candle. Allow energy to flow from your hands into the candle. When you have poured enough into the candle, you can then add more strength to it by carving words or symbols into it, still holding your intention. Then, place the candle it a holder and light it with a match. As you strike the match, keep your intention in your mind, and as you bring the match to the candle’s wick, visualise the power of fire igniting your work. Sit before the candle and meditate upon the flame, still holding your visualisation of the end result of your spellwork coming to fruition. You can add herbs around the base of the candle, if you so wish, to allow them to add their magical energy to your work. You can infuse the herbs with your intention and energy in exactly the same way as you did the candle. See with your mind’s eye a cone of power rising from the herbs around the candle, blending with the candle’s flame and sending the power out into the world.

Druid Magic

magic circleDruids aren’t associated with magic in the same way that other Pagan traditions, such as Wicca or Witchcraft seem to be.  Yet I’ve found that in every spiritual path, there are elements of magic contained within that are often very similar in nature.

What is Druid magic? Do Druids cast spells? Have magical tools? Do we think of Gandalf, brandishing his staff and saying mightily “You Shall Not Pass!” or his mushroom-addled fellow, Radagast, who lives in the woods, talks to animals and, according to the latest Hobbit films, has a rabbit-powered all-terrain sleigh and brings hedgehogs back from the dead?

Of course it’s none of these things. It would be pretty cool if it were. But Druid magic, like all magic, is subtler than what we see on the screen or read in books.  There isn’t lightning shooting from fingertips or fire balls sparking from one’s eyes.  In fact, many modern Druids don’t use magic at all, or don’t call it magic.

So what is magic? It has often been quoted these days as manipulating the natural forces of energy within nature to provide a desired result.  This could have many interpretations.  Flicking a switch and having my living room lit up at night could fall within this category, but I’m being a bit facetious. It is also often said that magic should be the last recourse after having tried all mundane means of solving a problem.  So how do Druids use magic, if at all?

There is a growing trend of blending Wicca and Druidry, as in Philip Carr-Gomm’s new book, Druidcraft.  This is a lovely way of expressing the divide between two very similar paths; kind of bridging the gap that lies between.  I thought the book, especially the audio book, was brilliant, and yet I’m still not one to perform spells on a regular basis.  Why is that?

As stated previously, magic is often the last recourse to a situation.  If all other means have been tried, and I’m plum run out of ideas, then I might turn to magic. I might equally turn to prayer. Praying for some guidance, asking the gods, the spirits, the ancestors for a little advice when I’m stuck could be called a spell – it could also be called a prayer.  Lighting a candle and some incense, meditating and then seeking some clarification or inspiration from the ancestors could indeed look like the workings of a magical spell. I think perhaps the difference is in the intention – in both magic and prayer, we are hoping for a result, but the results are often different.

In prayer, asking for the gods to solve a problem for us rarely, if ever, works in my own experience.  I prefer to ask them for inspiration on how to get through this, or my spirit guides on where to go to next in order to resolve and issue.  Casting a spell bypasses the question, in a way, and seeks to get an answer to a question not asked.  Perhaps this is why I resort to magic so little, I always like to ask the input of others to seek out different perspectives on a situation. Again, this is only my own personal views, and others may have other ways of both prayer and spell-casting that are vastly different to my own.

For me, as a Druid I am always questing the awen – for me, awen is the Grail.  Inspiration, flowing spirit – it is such a beautiful word from the Welsh language that has so many different meanings.  To me, awen is magic, though perhaps not in the spellcaster’s sense of the word.  It is energy, it is flowing, it is the Tao and The Force of the Jedi Knight.  It is something to be tapped into in order to gain a new perspective, to see the bigger picture, to obtain compassion. Awen is Buddhist enlightenment.  It is the Christian “God is Love”.

Instead of performing a magic spell, I might wander the heathland or forest, looking for inspiration around me. I might find a place to pray, using that inspiration to guide my prayers to better understanding of myself, the situation, the world.  When all other recourses have failed, then I might try magic – the last recourse.

I feel that magic is something special, something not to be abused or overused.  We often hear the term “god-bothering” and magic may indeed be another form of “bothering” – whether it is the elements, the energy of nature, or something else entirely. I feel that Druids on the whole would turn to awen rather than magic, but perhaps with the blending of Druidry and other traditions this could indeed change, or maybe even change back to the way Druidry used to be – who knows?

Perhaps my quest for awen is my magic.  Magic includes transformation, and questing the awen will indeed change someone.  None of the knights on the Grail quest were ever the same.  None who seek enlightenment will ever be the same person they were before. We are constantly changing anyways, living a life of impermanence and fluidity, of change and flux.

Perhaps just tapping into that idea is magic, is awen.

(Reblogged from my channel at SageWoman: http://www.witchesandpagans.com/SageWoman-Blogs/druid-magic.html)