The Feast of Hares


 The Pink Moon in Libra arrives, and with it the Feast of Hares.  This particular moon has been very inspiring to people it seems; it symbolizes a healing hope, a peaceful and united movement in the cosmos, just as Venus passed through the Pleiades, the moon moved in to place for the Feast of Hares which has always, in its many forms and variations, been a symbolic time of rebirth.  The Pink Moon will fall at the end of a sunny Mars day, bringing a warm balance to the cool moon into the world.


That's what Floralia and Beltane and May Day and the Hare Moon and all the spring festivals of this time are, they are our celebration warmth returning, the rebirth of things.  Who knew that our ability to enjoy this time together as people always had would be so seriously derailed.  I'm pretty depressed that I wont get to make my May Day plans happen; I was really looking forward to being all moved out of this place and hosting sabbats by the time May's Eve rolled in.  At this point, I'm looking towards St. Johns and Midsummer, and hopefully, the freedom it brings.


I like Midsummer better anyway; I'm a lover of sunlight and long days and fire festivals of summer.  The older I get, the more I just want things to be warm all of the time, and outside in fresh wind.  As it is, I'm stuck inside like the rest of you, only catching glimpses of Spring on the rare venture outside.  As I've been writing more about recently, the comfort of domestic craft is keeping a lot of us sane.  The time at home and reliance of resources available is teaching me so much about how little I need to live on, how much I truly prefer to be alone like this and how much it comforts me not have to entertain anyone.  It's teaching me that I should focus on the kitchen more because it truly is the heart of a home, it's wonderful power of creation makes the space sacred.


I had to venture outside to prepare for the Feast of Hares (which is more like a Feast of Flowers).  The point of the feasting aspect of the ritual is to honor the rabbit by eating like a rabbit (or at least not eating anything offensive to them)  which is why flowers and fresh greens and simple fruits are a must.  Outside are fresh, fat, dandelions (but I regret to say the greens on these ones were too damn bitter even after some serious pickling and sauteing).  I made a heavy cumin and curry batter with a dash of dried garlic flower I saved from a year back and the result was fluffy, crunchy, sweet and savory fried dandelion heads.


Like I said; the greens were a tad bitter- I just couldn't bare them, but the pickled magnolia and ripe red beets made the salad a tangy, peppery delight.  A little red rose, cherry blossom and Chinese hawthorn tea to wash it all down and a vanilla violet honey bun for dessert and the feast is ready!  The bread broke unfortunately... I overworked it, but it still tasted heavenly. I sat on the porch and watched the lazy world go by.  Tonight, I'll open the Lepus Urn of Dreaming and go leaping over ditch and meadow, over grave and under full moon.

I shared the left-over dandelions with my guests of honor, my rabbits, and I think the whole thing was a success.  
May your Pink Moon be Merry, my friends.  May the moon bring you the hope to heal and the courage to keep fighting this plague.

Venus Day Violet



Gods, the violets smelled heavenly this year.  Like a meadow in my hands, sweet and light and dewy and deeply floral.  They are central to my honoring Venus Day in a few days.  They'll be central to the Feast of Flowers celebrations as well.  Just as Venus Day is a descendant of the Veneralia, the Feast of Flowers descends from Floralia and the celebration of spring in all its merry and abundant beauty from that old world we draw so much of our cultural symbolism from.


All the flowers and their symbols are a delight this month- but none are more beautiful in their cool, unassuming, delicate sweetness as the violet.  Their color when crushed in water is the deepest indigo, a deep blue with a tint of red that adds passion to her hue.  Violets and Venus go hand-in-hand. It's a romance between the glittering star and the lovely sweet violet.  The garden-gathered violets are washed and presented to the altar of Pandemos; I invoke the sweet song of the violet and sing her gentle praises.  Every year I gather the sweet violets from my mothers yard and make syrups, candies or dyes- practical and sweet things- a very me kind of ritual. 


This year was for candied violets and lemon-custard vanilla candied violet tart. The dough tastes like crisp butter cookie and the filling is lemon yogurty goodness with fresh lemon zest, honey and lavender sugars.  I love lemons, I love flowers, I love violets, I love spring.  I hate being quarantined at the height of poplar-bud gathering season, missing the bloom of the white camellias...  But that's okay.  Life is like this sometimes; in these awful and uncertain moments, we make sweet memories while we can-- wherever we can.

The Lightyear in the Home

Egg and sugar, butter and cream, lemon and salt, garlic and flour.  These tools of the kitchen cover everything from love to peace, fertility and hexes, divination and banishment... and a silver fork (even one bent into the beautiful shape of a heart) offers protection in the home that can't be beat.  Stuck in the house means reacquainting with my domestic skills, with the magics of the kitchen.
Spring is supposed to be a healing time, a time of rebirth and renewal.  Right now, it's just a time of fear and uncertainty and anxiety.  I wished better for my generation.  Spring is supposed to be a time go be out with friends gathering up the poplar buds and plucking the last of the sweet violets, instead we're just stuck inside trying to respect the new restrictions in this new world.  I plan to sneak out and walk around the yard a bit, gods know I need the fresh air.  The violets need picking and syruping, the hyacinths need drying and the cherry blossoms need gazing-at.  The wild greenwood walks and here I am stuck inside watching the procession of spring from behind the walls.  Floralia comes.  The Feast of Rabbits comes; May's Eve and St. Johns, Midsummer and First Fruits... it's all so close, I hope we can all go out and enjoy it when it does...

On this Lightyear, this Spring Equinox, I planned for the magical days ahead.  I started planning for this particularly social time in the witching world.  I'd like to hope I'll get the time-off in summer to attend the Symposium but as this quarantine stretches out, I will loose vacation days and opportunities later.  It's all so nebulous our lives right now, that's why I look forward to the divination that permeates the great holy days of witches; May's Eve, St. John's and Midsummer... In American folklore May is all about divination; this is a contribution of our various Western European ancestors.  There are many May's Eve and May Day Charms, ones that include wells and mirrors, fires and eggs, handkerchiefs and even snails in corn-starch.

“On the first day of May, put a diamond ring in a glass of water.  Place this glass where the sun will shine into the center of the ring, and when you look into the center you will see there the face of the man you will marry.”
“If a person looks into a well on the first day of May at noon, he will see his sweetheart.”
“ To keep off all sickness during the summer, get wet in the first rain of May..”
“If you look down a well on May first, you will see the face of the one you are to marry reflected in the water.” -The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore


“A basket tastefully arranged with flowers, was left by the lore-sick swain at the door of his lady-love.”
“A Piece of wild radish worn on Walpurgis Night enables the wearer to see ghosts and witches”
“Hares found on May morning are witches and should be stoned.”
“Draw crosses on you doors before May Day eve and the witches can do no harm.” -CL Daniels, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore and Occult Sciences of the World


“Hold a mirror over a well on May first, and you will see the image of your future husband or wife."
"If you wash your face in dew before sunrise on May Day, you will become very beautiful." -(Alabama)- Current Superstitions, Collected from the Oral Tradition of English Speaking Folk

Key and Bible divination has always been curious to me... I've never used it or seen it used but it's well known as one of the three old-world divinations of the Salem Girls (aside from Venus Glase and the Sieve and Shear), nevertheless I've been exploring it with a sister in the circle.  The triad of these gifts captured the imaginations of colonials, made them weary of this wicked world.  Stuck in the home means lots of time with the family bibles and family clock-key.  I have all the eggs and fostoria glasses I need but I've never quite figured out how sieve and shears is supposed to work...
But, I along with seemingly the rest of the known world am in a state of self-isolation.  Seattle's taking a hard hit with this pandemic, every day is a new damage report.  I'm heartbroken for Italy.  I'm heartbroken for the elderly.  I'm shocked by the callousness of leaders and depressed to know that the future is more bleak.  I've seen it deep in the cards- this doesn't go the way we want or think it will.  We have to get ready for years of hell.  That's life though, it always has been.  There are waves of peace and comfort followed inevitably by waves of chaotic fear and uncertainty.  I encourage you all to fall deep into your spirituality as we wait for the virus (both biological and political) to pass. It will take time, and it wont be fair, but life always balances itself slightly, ever so rightly.  Be patient.


The one benefit is all the time on our hands to get creative.  I've been relentlessly baking, drawing, writing chapbooks and brainstorming ideas of new books for me and friends.  I've been contemplating reaching out to local witches when the quarantine passes to gather for healing circles (carefully sterile ones at that), or just for some resonating time.  I need to harmonize over the craft right now.  I've had some inquires about the chapbooks; they're not for sale, no profit to be made- most are for my rebel-witch circle, the rest will be distributed randomly in cafe's I frequent and given away for May Day Basket.  May Day Basket will be a give away of chapbooks (each themed around either Love Fortunes or Hex Magic) for May's Eve to some of you fine folk.

When in quarantine, bake bread.  Supply yourself, fool.
Stay healthy, stay calm, pray and think conscientiously about your actions going forward, lives depend on our thoughtfulness.  Use this time to create, to sew, to garden, to work great art, to write and to cook.  Bake breads and crack eggs, spend time in your thoughts.  I wish you the best.

The Procession of Spring and Spirits



Already the land is warming.  It could just be a trick of the seasons; sometimes it gets warm in February and March only to snow again, and indeed a hailstorm covered my home in a small pile of ice on a chilly Saturday evening.  The last few months have been about loss.  I don't like grief.  I can deal with finality but I hate the pain of getting through the losses we all endure.  I believe that the way out is through, and that's all I'm trying to do-  get through it.  It's a cold and chilly feeling, a sadness that will come and fade with the frost, returning every so often to remind me but always warmed by my good memories of those I've loved.  Frost never lasts, and it never stays gone.  I like that rhythm.  I like patterns and rhythms, processes and choreographed movements.  Nature is full of that, even in her chaos.

As the frost recedes, the subterranean nursery pulsates and undulates with life striving for the warm sun above.  Their hard shells give way, their roots stretch, the soil makes space as the young shoots crawl their way to freedom and air and light.  She pushes them up from within, the young green bride of the land.  The land opens, the green spirits promenade along the hillsides and bring the celebration that is spring and summer to us all.  The hags of winter rest, the brides of spring dance, and all I wait for is the fires of summer that make the time so great.  The cook-outs and campfires, and bonfires; the holy fires, the nyd-fires, the May-fires and candle lit porches in the short nights...  I encourage you to make this Mayday and Midsummer something special.  Make the bright-year a time of creation and life, go dance with all those green gods and rose queens of summer.  Enjoy the land and sky and sea, and protect it with your whole heart.


Part of my current work has been dedicated to working on a series of chapbooks/zines based on folklore I've collected and essays related to them that I've written here and elsewhere compiled with illustrations.  These chapbooks are put together by hand and will be distributed at some upcoming witch markets and pop-up metaphysics fairs in the city.  Look for me around town, I show up in random places in Seattle and these chapbooks will too!

Floran candles for Mayday festivities this year
The other part of my time has been focusing on welcoming the spring and the renewal that comes with it through creation.  Dipping dried, oiled and cured mullein stalks from the cemetery roadside in beeswax, rolling Floran candles on paper, molding them hot in my hand with the petals of roses and the scent of olibanum, cooking up the fresh-harvested Seward pine resin and wrapping branches in the dried moss for the Woodwife torches... Candle-making isn't just a hobby, it's a coping mechanism, a way by which I can calm my nerves and focus my thoughts.


For my Naenian Candles, my partner and I built a walnut box from hand; a safe and sacred storage for these torches which illuminate sabbats and lead processions of the dead.  Inside is a mixture of calendula, red rose and ash of the cremated dead... A suitable coffin for this spirit candle.  Creation is sacred in every form, and during this time of renewal and sun and fertility, I am a servant to the preparations of this time. Cemeteries are resting places for the dead and roadsides are the paths that guide us, and our processions.  The mullein that grows there is imbued with a particular gift for movement and guidance, rest and community.

***

I just wanted to give a heartfelt thank you to my friend Cory over at New World Witchery for a great interview and a wonderful conversation on all things magic and folkish.  I look forward to our future collaborations!  Visit New World Witchery Podcast for more!

Apples of Epiphany


I can feel the land stirring even as it withers under the wet and cold and frost.  The Virid Virgin in her nursery, the Wild God newly reborn with the rising sun, the children of green and spring turning in their sacred hills, readying for their emergence into the spring's light.  I wait for this every year, I wait for the light to return because when it does, the buds will unfurl, the leaves will be vibrant, the frost will slough off into the river and out into the bay.  I love to watch the land turn green, watch the Wild Woman and her Horned god promenade through the land, turning bitter black to bursting brightness.  We still have a ways to go here in the Northwest- we don't usually get hit with snow until just before or after Candlemas and it sometimes comes back on and off all the way to May Day.  It depends; this year was cold and wet, so who knows what winter will bring?  What I do know is that the light is returning, the days will stretch out longer and with the rise of the sun, my power grows too.  I am no moonlit witch of the night; I am a flower queen of Midsummer, one of those day-time sorcerers of the fire-feasts, who haunt the heat-baked hedges and do all my best work when the sun is a blazing glow on the Western horizon, right before the whole world turns twilight blue.  I think people get witches wrong too often; they think it's all smoke and shadows and mysteries in darkness... they forget it's also about fire and light and fury and dance and destruction and daylight as well.

The Apple Mother has been on my mind a lot, inspired in part by Morgan's post about this class of liminal spirit.  It really is a class of spirit and having Apple Mother or Granny Apple in your court of spiritual guides is useful- she's sweet, a bit of a tart when she's drunk, she ages fine on the vine and ripens in strange weather.  She (I say she because my Apple Mother is female presenting to me but AM is actually a They in every regard) rules in a garden of food, harvest, home, fertility, love and is one of the many spirits in the court of Venus the Glittering Star- in fact, she is one of Venus' most prized heralds; apples carol in the morning star and sing her out again in the evening.  This New Year's Day and Epiphany, I honored the folk-magic and personal gnosis associated with apples; wassailing, cider-sprinkling in the local orchard, leaving cakes for the apple tree woman...

Apples are a strong cultural symbol in the States, and for good reason too; these wholesome and delicious foods have saved lives and staved off famine and hunger.  They rooted quickly in America and found their way into the cuisine and cultures of all who encountered it, Indigenous and Invasive peoples alike. She really is a force of giving and love; friendship and health, wealth and nobility- all those fancy and warm Venusian things witches like me live for.  Apple fortunes are prescribed for damn near every holiday on our calendar, but Epiphany has a unique and fun Old World history that makes honoring apples on this day particularly sweet; wassailing in orchards with hot cider and cakes!  There are dozens if not more incantations, songs and folk-rhymes in recorded English and Scottish history regarding wassailing around apple trees and orchards come New Years and after.

This time around, I've been focused on how Apples and Eggs play such a huge role in our culture and our magic, how use of these items transcends cultural lines and crosses into the symbolism of the common people.  By whatever name or form the spirit of the apple takes, may she be blessed this new year.


Epiphany means nothing to me religiously.  It celebrates a miracle that I've never witnessed or believed in but I do love the folk-magic associated with Epiphany- namely the fortune telling and divination games; apple-tree shaking, Venus Glase reading and the delightful epiphany cake with it's hidden gifts.  I made my own, with colored sugar and spongy sweet dough.  Inside was hidden a small red bean and a small black bean; to crown the new king and queen of the day.   It tasted fantastic even though I wasn't crowned.  I also made cured egg yolk.  I don't know why, I don't even eat eggs much... I guess I just wasn't raised to waste food, so after cracking my whites in the Venus Glase, I salt cured and baked the yolks, to store for future use.  Some times, we do things just to feel connected, and I felt connected to the season more than usual this year, all thanks to the folk charms that celebrate this season, and I feel better for it, more in-tune to the home and kitchen.


I hope your New Year brings you everything you need; the joys, the trials, the security and the comfort.  May the light return to your world as it grows green again, may it be as sweet as an apple and as filling as cake and may you see the path before you with eyes unclouded by egg-whites.

HAPPY NEW YEARS!

The Egg of the New Year


Holly pricks and evergreen sticks, 
Mistletoe above, and fortunes of love; 
The short, sunless days-- a world without light.
We witches still play on Christmas Night.

          Winter comes and with it, the bite of the frost and the long nights.  The boughs of the trees will weigh heavy with snow, the rains will freeze in the sky and blister our skin.   We will wrap our homes in light and tell stories by the fireside; stories of nativities and saints and devils and gifts.  Winter is a story-telling time, especially in Indigenous cultures, including the in the Northwest; winter dances and potlatches used to be more common, because winter is a time for stories, for tales that thrill and teach us on the long nights.

         They used to say that cattle and horses kneel to Christ near Christmas.   They used to say that the winter was haunted by Hags.  They also used to say that fortunes and love divinations were just as useful at Midwinter as they are at Midsummer.  In the folklore of the New World, witches and portents of the future tend to ride on the days of Hallow's Eve, May's Eve, Midsummer and Midwinter, and today it is the latter we will honor.

        Midwinter, Winterstide or Christmastime is a peculiar season- from the end of Thanksgiving to the day of the New Year, our world becomes a festive, illuminated, highly spiritual time.  Whether secular or religious, whether Christian or pagan, the Yultide season is so deeply rooted in our traditions that we continue the magic of the season onward through the generations with joy.  Part of this time is spent in frantic materialism and commercialism, driving ourselves into debt over expectations unrelated to the history of the season, and the other part is spent in joy and revelry with family as we fatten on sweets the way "rabbits fatten on frost".I don't care for Christmas, at least, I used to truly dislike it until recently.  The more I started to separate my celebration of folk charms from the consumerism and obligations, the better I felt about the season as a whole. These days my "Christmas" is about divination, baking sweets, attending the ballet and waiting for my more favorite holiday, New Years.  This year, my New Years is for reading the future, looking ahead, seeing the way.

Little 
Sorceries in the Venus Glase
Egg divination is a very cute and underrated folk-magic.  The idea that there's an entire magical world surrounding eggs as portents of love or death, as talismans of luck or cursing, as vehicles that witches sail overseas in (according to the German American folklore of the Midwest),2 is just too cute to me.  In the part of Southern California we grew up in, it wasn't uncommon to hear of someone's granny or abuela rubbing them with eggs or cracking eggs over them for all kinds of purposes; to remove internal blockages, to tell fortunes, to absorb bad spirits and evil eyes, or to heal wounds and transfer pain- even to curse children or sick or elderly people.  Oomancy is part of many different healing traditions and their method for use in that regard isn't too dissimilar to the love divination games reported in folklore.  Witches seemed to love haunting eggs in the same way they loved haunting butter in folklore; witches were accused of rotting the hen's eggs or producing yokeless eggs much to the irritation of their neighbors according to Puckett’s Popular Beliefs and Superstitions.  Emrich had reported in The Folklore of Love and Courtship that a portent of someone's intended lover would themselves enter the home to turn an egg put into the coals of a hearthfire, an egg that legend says "sweats blood".   I've never seen the famed "egg-sweating" that's discussed in some of our folklore, but when candle wax or liquid mercury wasn't available, we would turn to egg-whites cracked into bowls.  As we move closer to the long night, the Winter Solstice, I've been dreaming of folk charms for the occasion...

“If an egg, placed in front of the fire by a young woman, be seen to sweat blood, it is a sign that she will succeed in winning the sweetheart she desires.”3

Every bit of lore regarding this divination varies; sometimes the egg-whites must be poured into the water and the bowl left unmolested overnight to be read in the morning (just as it is on May Day), other times you read the whites by candlelight straight-away.

"Drop an egg in water at midnight on New Year's Eve, and whatever it forms is what will happen to you during the year."4

One operation for this fortune given in the Journal of American Folklore tells a pretty fantastic tale, here it is not directly referenced as a Christmas or Halloween divination, but it can be if you want it to;

“One or more girls place some eggs to roast before an open fire, while they seat themselves in front of the fire on chairs. Each one who is trying her fortune rises to turn her egg when it begins to sweat ; it will sweat blood! As she is turning the egg the person she is to marry will enter through a door or window (all of which must be left open) and take her vacant chair. If she is to die before she marries, two black dogs will enter, bearing her coffin, which they will deposit on her chair. Mrs. Fanny D. Bergen.”

         According to C.L Daniels' collection of occult lore, egg folklore among different cultures was not only common, it was fairly serious business much of the time.  But, like most divinations and fortunes, these magics were not always associated with witchery, mostly with 'little sorceries' and fortune-telling, and were usually practiced by younger people (girls in particular) in order to divine for luck in love and life, or to foresee theft and death.  One of the divinations given in reference to the holidays (we witches know as our flying-days), goes as such;

"To foretell coming events, break a new-laid egg, separate carefully the white from the yolk, drop the white into a large tumbler half full of water, place this uncovered in a  dry place, and let it remain untouched for twenty-four hours.  Then look again, and the figures which will have formed indicate the occupation of your future husband,--” the charm continues, "The more whites are dropped into the glass the more figures there will be.  This fortune-telling experiment is believed to be  particularly efficacious if undertaken between midnight and 1 am on May Day, or Midsummer morning, on Halloween, Christmas Eve or New Year’s.

An egg for luck, sugar for sweetness, milk for comfort, rice for wealth and an orange for beauty, may these New Year symbols bring their spirits into my path...

The same egg divinations practiced especially on May Day and Halloween are just as effective at Midsummer, Christmas and New Year’s, days associated with witch’s flight and so, if you’re feel the need to bring some folk magic into your Holiday season, you could turn to egg magic for New Year fortune-telling with friends and family, or make egg-magic part of your Christmas Eve activities with the kids.


Take an unblemished egg from the fridge or hen-house, one for each person involved, and some glass goblets or bowls.  Fill the bowls with water and by firelight, crack the eggs and separate the whites.  Pour the whites into the bowls and save the yellows for baking goods.  Tuck the bowls under your bed and in the morning, pull them out carefully and read the shapes within.  If you see images of wealth, your mate will be rich.  If you see boats and waves, he will be a traveler who breaks your heart.  If you see headphones and turn-tables, bet he’s gonna be a DJ.  Have fun with this little game, or take it as seriously as you please.  For some, egg-reading is their primary form of divination, for others it’s just a fun but of fortune-telling.  The choice is yours as always.

New Year’s divinations make a good deal of sense; why wouldn’t we read our futures when the year turns?  New Years is huge for us as a culture, maybe we should focus more on bringing divination into this time as New World Witches, make it about more than just first-kisses, fireworks and binge drinking (I mean we should keep all that, but we can add more), maybe we can bring back some of the old customs and superstitions of the past in a fun new way.

"A branch of holly with berries on it, brought into the house, will bring luck; but for every berry that falls before New Year's, a bit of the luck will go."
5

Duncan Emirch’s The Hodgepodge Book: An Almanac of American Folklore has some advice for ushering in a merry New Year, like making wishes on horseshoes kept under the pillow on the eve of the New Year, and leaving out symbols of the future you desire out on the tables; bread and salt and coins and the like in order to draw in health, wealth and prosperity, or, eating foods with symbolic meaning for good luck in the year to come.

"Lay a green ivy leaf in a dish on New Year's night, cover it with water and set it in a safe place until the fifth day of the year. If the leaf is then still green and fair, you will be safe from any sickness all the year; but if you find black spots on it, you may expect sickness."- CLD

This time around I will be leaving out bread and milk for the tricksters who visit and I will be eating an egg for luck, black-eyed-peas6 for prosperity, and peppers to make my love-life spicy.  I’ll also be doing holly, apple and egg-divinations to usher in the New Year with my mates.  I'm looking forward to a new kind of Yuletide set of traditions, ones that make the season truly feel magical to me.

“By giving to a number of mistletoe leaves the names of her several suitors, and ranging them in line before the fire, she can test the affection of each sweetheart. The leaf which the heat causes to pop over nearest to where she is standing will indicate which lover is most sincere in his professions, and in the same way will be shown the relative ardor of the others.”7


1. Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Vol VII
2. Wayland D. Hand, Popular Beliefs and Superstitions from North Carolina. 4874-8569, Volume 4874, Issue 8569
3. Journal of American Folklore
4. Newbell Niles Puckett, Wayland Debs Hand, Anna Casetta, Sondra B. Thiederman, Popular Beliefs and Superstitions: A Compendium of American folklore: from the Ohio Collection of Newbell Niles Puckett, Volume 1
5. Cora Linn Morrison Daniels, ‎Charles McClellan Steven, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World, Volume 2
6. Thomas G. Burton, Ambrose N. Manning, A Collection of folklore by Undergraduate Students of East Tennessee State University
7. Journal of American Folklore

The Modern Witch Tarot Review

The Modern Witch Tarot

...An exploration of femininity, body positivity, divine sexuality, diversity and queerness in tarot.

What a phenomenon this particular tarot deck has been; truly an incredibly unifying experience for young witches all over the world, but especially for us brown and queer femme folk.  Almost every one of my femme P.O.C friends pre-ordered this deck with me- including members of my BGMN coven.

The Modern Witch Tarot has taken the world by storm with bursts of delicious color, contemporary themes, diversity in representation and quality manufacturing.  While the cards are a tad stiff and glossy for the traditional shuffle, they are the highest quality you'll see in tarot, and they are masterpieces that hearken to graphic novel detail while in-keeping with Rider Waite tradition.  The pre-order edition came in a decorated golden tin with moths and moons printed along the sides.  Inside was a broach featuring the favored 10 of Swords Card with its popular meme-line, "Everything is Fine".  Next, a decorative patch as well as a black and gold reading cloth.  The deck comes in a stiff, high quality box and features stiff gold edges.


The illustrations themselves are a treat; headphones and cellphones, print dresses and braids, women with black and dark brown and pale cream skin, people with thick curves and waves and afros... what a wonderful experience to see myself reflected in witchy artwork.

Lisa, you are a wonderful artist and ally, supporting your work has been a pleasure and I cannot wait to see how your work impacts the tarot world in the coming months.


I'm stunned and I highly recommend getting your hands on a deck when it becomes available!

10/10 Via Hedera Tarot Rating.

The Evening Sun


I spent Halloween on a farm with the pumpkins and corn and gourds and cabbages, under an orange sun, in the cold crisp evening light.  We ate candy, made mischief, got drunk on tequila and honored the dead.  It was both familiar and cathartic.


"To see their future husband, the young women used to take one teaspoonful of flour, one of the salt, and one of the water, and mix them together, forming dough.  This they made into a little cake, which they baked in the ashes of the stone grate. While eating this, they walked backwards toward their beds, laid themselves down across them, and went to sleep lying in this position.  If they dreamed of their future husband as bringing a glass cup containing water, he was wealthy; if a tin cup, he was in good circumstances; and if he had ragged clothes and a rusty tin cup, he was very poor."  -The Journal of American Folklore (p. 49)



A bowl of water, a bowl of earth, a bowl of rings- fortunes for the future on All Hallows Eve.  Halloween Tables are a tradition, and I hope to get more creative with each passing year.


Baking for the home and the spirits; a lot of the time, we express our devotion through simple domestic arts and crafts which connect us to our ancestors and the wisdom they've passed on to us.  This recipe that came to be from the ether is cocoa blueberry and it turned out heavenly!


I hope your final harvest was full of treats and traditions.

Rat Letters


"In New England, as well as in other parts of the United States, it is still believed, by certain persons, that if a house is infested with rats, these can be exiled by the simple process of writing them a letter, in which they are recommended to depart, and make their abode in another locality."
- Journal of American Folklore: Vol V (p.23)


There’s a bit of a rat problem over at the Family House.  We’ve got deterrents but I think we’d all like to avoid traps or exterminators (we don’t need to collect any more spirits in that house), so I’ve decided to have a little fun with the folklore regarding my dear ally, the rat.  Rats and mice resonate with me as a mole-person. All the mammals low to the ground who scurry in dark places and master the world by their wits are my kind of beast. Rabbits, raccoons, mice, moles and rats, they all have a phenomenal amount of magical folklore behind them; there’s even a set of divination and omens regarding rats and mice (myomancy), but one bit that goes overlooked today is the method of rat and mice removal by way of a politely written and concise letter, given to the rats to read.  

That's all there is to it really: Write a letter kindly explaining that they are no longer wanted, where they may relocate, what may await them there and a proper thank you for their acquiescence. James George Frazer's Golden Bough was my first exposure to the idea of Greek and New English "rat letters"; like most sources on this lore, Frazer's came from the same vein of sources- Greek agricultural treatise, French and Scottish anti-mice letters and lastly, the oral accounts of American farmers throughout the 19th century. These letters and their accompanying incantations are not always threats or demands, they are more like instructions; a proposition for the rats and mice that direct them to a specific place away from your stores and larders. 


"Some years ago an American farmer was reported to have written a civil letter to the rats, telling then that his crops were short, that he could not afford to keep them through winter that he had been very kind to them, and that for their own good he thought they had better leave him and go to some of his neighbors who had more grain.  This document he pinned to a post in his bard for the rats to read."
James George Frazer Macmillan, 1912, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, Part 5, Volume 2 (p. 277)


It was particularly important that you state the place they are to go quite clearly in your missive- it can be a neighbors house or a barren patch in your own keeping. Point was, the mice and rats didn’t need to go home, they just needed to get the hell up outta here. The simplest charm of Rat Letters involved only a few simple steps; write a small letter to the rats (or mice, or moles) and (according to some sources) smear it with butter or grease before folding or balling it up and placing in their hole of a rat's nest- or, write the letter and place it in clear view on the wall near their entryway that they may see it on their way to and from. 


Having taken a leaf of paper, write on it the following words: “I conjure you, O mice who inhabit here, not to injure me yourselves, nor to allow any other mouse to do so; and I give you this field *(mention which one it is).  But if I find you residing here in the future with the aid of the mother of the gods, I will cut you up into seven pieces.” having written this, paste-up the paper at the spot where the mice are against a natural stone, taking care to keep the letters on the outside.  I have written this, in order not to leave out anything; but I o not believe all such things, heaven forbid! And I counsel every one not to pay any attention to such rubbish.”
- Cornelius Bassus, Geoponika


Charms and incantations to lead rats away by way of persuasion rather than extermination go far back in Western folklore- through Greece, France, Ireland, Scotland, and Americas, there are charms to dismiss rats and mice to another place; by music or note, by threat or citation. Rat-letters appear to be one of the rare regional folklore in the New World but do appear in a number of publications outside of the collections including popular women's magazines and Christian life publications of the 19th century.

In the new world, there was a good deal of humor behind the whole idea of writing a letter to the rats and it was a folklore found throughout New England, but the original sources were pretty serious about trying to get the rats to leave through peaceful-yet-dire methods, fearful of invoking their numbers in vengeance and weary of trying to annihilate the evil rather than transfer it elsewhere.  Hell, according to the Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World it was recommended in New England once to simply carry a rat and let it loose in a neighbors home, the rest would follow and settle there; delivering a message (one way or another) was a crucial point. 

While pest exorcism charms are a dime-a-dozen in folklore, the specific writing of a letter seems to be a rare and regional bit of folklore, and very cute. Scottish ejection charms were to be written legibly and in full view for the rats to see (and often accompanied by a rhyming charm) and we see this mentioned in the Journal of American Folklore, while those of the Geoponika and France were meant to be plugged into rat-holes and entryways (similarly, soap ((the enchanted kind is always best)) could be plugged in rat-holes with a small incantation spoken).  Those found in American folklore are primarily French, Scottish and English in origin and those charms were inspired in no small part by Roman agricultural lore collections of the 10th century and I'd wager that the transmission of this charm came to America by French and Scottish settlers familiar with this old world charm and its contemporary uses

As Hallows Eve approaches and the fruits drop and the corn withers, like our ancestors before us we turn to the simple agricultural rites of old, even the silly superstitions, just to feel a little bit better about the winter to come. I wondered what I could do with such a fun bit of folklore to help my family house… I settled on trying out a polite letter asking for our dear rats to depart the premises before we adopt the new house cat; except this is no simple letter, this one will be inked in banishment and censed in exorcism, and ultimately charmed for the purpose of magical persuasion.

I imagine this little folk charm could be easily adapted for hex-craft; sending away your rats to pester the home of your enemy... but I wouldn't recommend that, not unless you want that enemy sending an even more politely written letter to the rats directing them back to you.... I hope they receive my letter in good humor… but if they don’t? Cats. Always bet on cats.



Resources:

  • Geoponika by Various; Anatolius, Pliny, Brassus et al
  • Journal of American Folklore, Volume V by American Folk-lore Society, 1892
  • Charms, Charmers and Charming: International Research on Verbal Magic by J. Roper Springer, Nov 19, 2008
  • The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, Part 5, Volume 2 by James George Frazer, Macmillan, 1912
  • Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World: A Comprehensive Library of Human Belief and Practice in the Mysteries of Life by Mrs. Cora Linn (Morrison) Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevans, J. H. Yewdale & sons Company, 1903
  • Folklore From the Working Folk of America by Tristram Potter Coffin, Hennig Cohen, Anchor Press, 1973 
  • Arthur's Lady's Home Magazine, Volumes 37-39 by T. S. Arthur & Sons, 1871
  • The Congregationalist and Christian World; The Conversation Corner: Rats (p. 130)
© VIA HEDERA • Theme by Maira G.