Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews

If you’ve learned one thing by now, it’s that Becky likey excuses to eat and drink. Fortunately for me, 2020 has delivered ample excuses and we’ll be talking about the latest one today, “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews: Herbal Potions, Magical Teas, and Spirited Libations” by Amy Blackthorn.

You may remember that not too long ago I reviewed “Witchcraft Cocktails: 70 Seasonal Drinks Infused with Magic & Ritual” by Julia Halina Hadas. It would be silly to not acknowledge there are many similarities between that book and “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews”. Both provide ample information to make you a competent home bartender, and both provide enough witchy info to effectively add magic to your drinks.

Where the two books diverge in a big way is what drinks are offered. Where “Witchcraft Cocktails” is strictly cocktails, “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews” focuses on almost anything you can drink. Obviously, there is booze involved with many of the recipes, but Blackthorn goes out of her way to provide non-alcoholic options as well. You’ll find cocktails, mocktails, teas, kombucha (which is low enough in alcoholic content that I consider it non-alcoholic), and more!

Of course, when it comes to me, I opted to make a little booze-based magic! I tried my hand at the Bishop, a recipe that goes back to the 18th century and generates success and prosperity. It calls for red wine, which I happened to have a bottle kicking around in need of using up. Along with the wine is orange juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

It is delicious! I’ve made it many times since my first attempt. It is sweet and smooth. I highly recommend it!

Amy Blackthorn’s “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews” is wonderful addition to the expanding category for food and beverage-based magic. As far as I’m concerned, it is a must own.

You can learn more here.

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Magic: A History

What can archeology teach us about magic? It turns out, a whole hell of a lot! I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Magic: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft from the Ice Age to the Present” by Chris Gosden. I don’t know who I thought would write the history of magic, but an archeologist just wasn’t what I was expecting. That said, Gosden was the right person for the job.

Gosden defines magic as “human connections with the universe, so that people are open to the workings of the universe and the universe is responsive to us. Magic is related to, but different from, the other two great strands of history, religion or science: the former focuses on a god or gods, the latter a distanced understanding of physical reality. Magic is one of the oldest world-views and yet is capable of constant renewal, so that a modern magic can help us to explore our physical and ethical connections to the world in a time of profound ecological crisis.”

With this as a guide, Gosden starts in 40,000 to 5,000 BCE and ends in spiritualism, Aleister Crowley, and the Golden Dawn. During this, Gosden spans the globe, exploring archeological sites for insights into the magical practices of the early Neanderthals, China, Africa, Greece, the Americas, and more. Obviously, a single book can contain only so much detail, but considering the breadth of time and extensive geography covered, “Magic: A History” is an impressive work that had to have involved a migraine inducing amount of research.

For years now I have longed for a complete history of magic, and now Chris Gosden has done the hard work required to make my desires a reality. “Magic: A History” fills a void that has existed for far too long and is an essential book for anyone interested in the evolution of magical practices.

You can learn more here.

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A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance

What can I say? I love food. I also happen to love Dawn Aurora Hunt, owner of Cucina Aurora, purveyor of fine olive oils and other treats. When I found out that she had a cookbook coming out, I literally tracked down the publisher and emailed them out of the blue asking for a copy. And they delivered, thanks Tiller Press! I expected a standard cookbook from “A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance,” typical aphrodisiac type stuff, but it is a whole lot more.

“A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance” is an amazing exploration of love, food, and the author’s journey with both. The book is divided into 3 parts: Self-Love, Attracting Love, and Rekindling the Fires. All of this covers such topics as honesty, self-care, building friendship, dating, attracting romance, and more. Of course, along with all of that are recipes ranging from beginner to advanced. And you know what happens now, don’t you? I tell you about the recipe I tried!

I went with something easy and delicious sounding, Lemon Ginger Tonic. “This tonic with purifying lemon, heart-warming cinnamon, and lively ginger will you with warmth and healing energy. With each sip, envision negativity and hurt melting away.”


This recipe was super simple and amazing tasting! Seriously, a winter addiction may be at hand because this tastes like the best mulled cider you ever had in your life…. without the cider! Take ingredients and dump them in a glass, then top with boiling water! I had a killer headache when I made this and hand to god, this with a couple of ibuprofens mellowed me right out and I slept like a baby that night.

Owning a copy of “A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance” by Dawn Aurora Hunt is a guarantee of experiencing a life with more love and delicious food.

You can learn more here.

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The Pagan Book of the Dead

Didn’t I just publish a review of a Claude Lecouteux book? Yes, yes, I did. There is already another book? Yes, yes, there is. Is it too much? No, no, it isn’t. Theoretically, you can have too much of a good thing, like fried food or sugar (not that I reign that in). However, when it comes to Lecouteux, you can NEVER have too much of a good thing, and his latest, “The Pagan Book of the Dead” is a very good thing.

“The Pagan Book of the Dead” explores the afterlife from a variety of cultures and sources and how it evolved. Medieval Christian depictions of the afterlife were apparently the English-speaking world’s first torture porn. I have trouble handling horror (movies or books) and dude, the crazy ways a soul could be tortured was/is messed up! Rarely did I see anything about heaven, occasionally I would read about forgiveness, but primarily, that afterlife is all about torture. And although medieval Christianity takes the taco for discussing afterlife as primarily torture, they don’t own the exclusive rights to unhappily ever afters. In fact, one of the biggest features of “The Pagan Book of the Dead” is that unlike most of Lecouteux’s books, which focus on English, French, and German texts, this book also has texts from Arab countries, Nicaragua, and Asia. Believe me, they can be just as judgmental and punitive.

Which highlights one of the things I loved about this book, which is not only its inclusion of other cultures, but other formats. Along with the traditional tales (fairy or otherwise) you have come to expect, Lecouteux also features Gypsy folktales and songs as sources. With these extra inclusions he crafts an even better tapestry of the interconnectedness of our stories and the universality of many of our themes and symbols.

I am not 100% certain, but “The Pagan Book of the Dead” MAY be my new favorite Claude Lecouteux book.

You can learn more here.

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Travels to the Otherworld and Other Fantastic Realms

If you’ve been a reader of The Magical Buffet for any time at all, you know that I am a lady that LOVES herself some Claude Lecouteux. He has written numerous books about medieval beliefs and magic (many that have been reviewed on this website!). This time he, and his co-editor Corinne Lecouteux, are exploring the various realms of the medieval world with “Travels to the Otherworld and Other Fantastic Realms.”

In the introduction the Lecouteuxs (Lecouteuxes? Lecouteuxi?) explain that as you might expect, distance traveling in medieval times was dangerous business. Obviously, people wanted to hear about it, but instead of dry travelogues, people wrote tales of adventure and romance in these mystical distant lands. From the introduction, “To come alive, the stories need heroes whose epic deeds – real or legendary – have left their mark in human memory. While some of these figures like King Arthur, Roland, Siegfried, and Melusine have survived in popular consciousness, how many others are no longer remembered at all today!

Travelers’ tales open up an unusual world for us; they allow us to discover mythic geography and meet people from the far ends of the earth. In its own way, each tale reflects the reactions of the human being when faced with the unknown. The letters of Alexander of Macedonia to his mother Olympias and his teacher Aristotle are a perfect example of this. Out of these letters emerge alarming creatures of unparalleled strangeness.

But journeys did not only take place in this world. In the Middle Ages, with its profound Christian imprint, the protagonists could also make their way into the Otherworld, the land of Faery; this is the case with Thomas of Erceldoune (also known as Thomas the Rhymer) or Guerrin Meschino.”

“Travels to the Otherworld and the Fantastic Realms” presents tales of traveling to the end of the Earth, traversing the globe in the name of love and/or vengeance, seeing the fires of Hell, and more! Along with these stories are rare illustrations from manuscripts and chapbooks.

If you want to voyage to ancient, magical places, “Travels to the Otherworld and Other Fantastic Realms” by Claude and Corinne Lecouteux is a beautiful resource.

You can learn more here.

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Witchcraft Cocktails

If you have read the website for any time at all, or follow me on social media, you know that I am a lady that loves to eat and drink. I love it even more when my website enables my vice! Entering from stage right is, “Witchcraft Cocktails: 70 Seasonal Drinks Infused with Magic & Ritual” by Julia Halina Hadas. That is right, witchy shit meets booze. I am here for it.

“Witchcraft Cocktails” is a beautiful blend of bartending and witchcraft. Hadas does an excellent job giving the reader bartending 101. She provides an overview of spirits, bar tools, and techniques. You can become a competent home bartender with everything provided. This is followed with a nice witchcraft overview. It is hard to take such a vast and diverse topic such as witchcraft and boil it down to a manageable introduction. Hadas does an admirable job of covering basics enough to provide the reader with the knowledge they need to get the most of out of the cocktail recipes provided.

Since we are dealing with witches, the cocktail recipes that follow are divided up by season. They range from new versions of classics and some original recipes. I drink a lot of cocktails, but I am not an expert! But let’s answer the question you all have; did I make a drink out of the book? Of course!

Although an enthusiastic consumer of food and drink, I’m also lazy. So, I chose a cocktail that merely required some juice purchases, the Revitalizing Tequila Sunrise. And while on the topic of laziness, “Witchcraft Cocktails” has a recipe to make your own grenadine, which I skipped and used my store bought. According to Hadas, “Blending the rejuvenating agave plant spirit of tequila, the brightness of lemon, and fresh, smile-inducing orange, this cocktail will put a pep in your step.” (Just remember with tequila, you may first have a pep in your step, but if you over imbibe it will put you down.) This recipe evokes the energies of youth, creativity, and purification. Each recipe includes a way to amp up its effectiveness. In the case of the Revitalizing Tequila Sunrise she suggests having citrine in hand while enjoying the cocktail. (Believe it or not, this crystal lover does not own any citrine.)

Full disclosure, I did not feel rejuvenated after drinking this. However, I did not use one lick of fresh juice in it, and it was still DELICIOUS. What is nice about “Witchcraft Cocktails” is that a drink can be as simple (me!) or complex as you want to make it.

If you are a practitioner of witchcraft that enjoys the occasional cocktail, or a cocktail drinker looking for a new perspective, “Witchcraft Cocktails” by Julia Halina Hadas is for you!

You can learn more here.

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HooDoo Cleansing and Protection Magic

Today we’re talking about “HooDoo Cleansing and Protection Magic” by Miss Aida. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I can now say Miss Aida has written a practical, accessible, and diverse book that anyone can use.

This book has made me want to do a top down spiritual overhaul on myself and my household. Miss Aida has offered such a variety of spiritual cleansing options that even a lazy lady like myself have found things to try: treating your personal aura, how to physical and spiritually clean your household, dealing with potentially cursed objects, what to do when things go wrong, and more. Everything is written in a welcoming, conversational tone.

If you’re interested in a little DIY spiritual cleansing, “HooDoo Cleansing and Protection Magic” by Miss Aida is a must own!

You can learn more here.

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Horse Magick

Full disclosure, I am not a fan of horses. It’s not like I actively hate them, I just don’t have that gushing adoration that so many people have for them. As a little girl, I never went through a “horse phase”. I didn’t even go crazy for unicorns until my late teens/early twenties when I learned more about them. (Specifically, that they could be beautiful killers. The murdering unicorns are the ONLY reason to watch the movie “Cabin in the Woods”.)

So, why on earth did I agree to read “Horse Magick: Spells and Rituals for Self-Empowerment, Protection, and Prosperity” by Lawren Leo with Domenic Leo? Honestly, I could not tell you why. What I can tell you is that I am glad I did!

Each chapter features a horse drawn from a wonderfully curated collection of examples in religion, folklore, and history. After the example you will find a spell or ritual associated with or inspired by the example. The spells are clearly written and well thought out, being sure to list supplies at the start. And, if you’re a nerd like me, the BEST part is at the end of each chapter there is a list of additional resources! I don’t if it was the authors or the publisher who made the decision to do this, but I hope to see more books going forward contain this feature.

Along with the spells and rituals, “Horse Magick” also has a chapter devoted to “Equine Dreams”. This is essentially a horse-based dream dictionary. If you dream of horses in any scenario, you will probably find a meaning for it in there.

Did Lawren and Domenic Leo convert me into a horse lover? No. Did they create a compelling collection of folklore and magic that I basically read straight through in a day because it was so interesting? Yes.

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

10 Questions with Deborah Blake (with Giveaway)

This is an interview with Deborah Blake, author of The Goddess is in the Details, Everyday Witchcraft and numerous other books from Llewellyn, along with popular tarot and oracle decks. She’s also written the award-winning author of the Baba Yaga and Broken Rider paranormal romance series and the Veiled Magic urban fantasies from Berkley.

1. Considering the current situation, we cannot really start without me first asking, how are you doing?

I’m hanging in there. I feel very fortunate, all things considered. I live in a rural area that hasn’t been as badly hit as some, and no one I know has gotten sick. I have a nice house to hide out in and the cats for company. On the down-side, I am definitely feeling the stress, as most people are. It has made it hard to be creative. And I miss being able to hang out with my friends. Blue Moon Circle, my coven, finally got together yesterday for the solstice for the first time since February (outside, safely distancing, of course). It was lovely.

2. Your latest book is “Modern Witchcraft: Goddess Empowerment for the Kick-Ass Woman.” What made you decide to do a goddess-oriented book on witchcraft?

It just felt like the right time. So many women I know are struggling with feeling scared/worried/angry/frustrated/triggered, sometimes all at the same time. I think many of us feel helpless, no matter how hard we work for positive change. So I wanted to write a book that would help women (anyone who identifies as female in any way, really) feel empowered and heard instead.

3. “Modern Witchcraft” serves as a comprehensive introduction to witchcraft practice, which is a huge topic. How difficult was it to decide what to include?

Nearly impossible! On the one hand, I am writing for a new audience, and I’m assuming that at least a portion of them are coming to Witchcraft for the first time. On the other hand, goddesses are such a huge topic on their own, I didn’t want to spend too much time in the book talking about basic practices and tenets, instead of the focus of the book. Hopefully I managed a good balance.

4. Who are some of your favorite goddesses and why?

I often call on the goddess in a general way, rather than invoking a specific one. But I confess to a certain fondness for Hecate, who is both protective and kick-ass, and very witchy. If I have a personal deity, it is Her. I love Brigid for Her healing and creative aspects, and of course, Bast because cats are Her sacred animal.
5. Do you have any goddesses on your altar?

At the moment, I have a statue on my main altar of Brigid that was a gift from my daughter. She is standing in front of a cauldron and holding a sacred flame. On the altar in my bedroom, which is devoted to the spirits of my cats who are no longer with me, I have two very rough pottery statues of god and goddess in their more primitive, less specific forms.

6. In these times of upheaval, how can witchcraft help?

I think having a spiritual path—no matter what it is—helps to ground us during the tough times, and brings us a measure of peace we may not find in other aspects of our lives. For me, Witchcraft also allows me to connect with the gods on a daily basis and to do spellwork for protection, healing, and other issues that are so important right now.

7. In “Modern Witchcraft” you mention that you have a lot of books about goddesses. I consider myself to be a lady with a lot of books about goddesses. So exactly how many books do you have? Yes, I want to see if mine is bigger than yours. Goddess book collections, that is.

Ooh, it’s on! Let me go count… Okay, I have ten books specifically focused on goddesses, and lots more that have large sections about them. Plus, five different goddess oracles (I suspect you’ve got me beat).

FYI, I have 3 about specific goddesses, 8 about assorted goddesses, and 3 oracle decks based on goddesses.

8. You have mentioned on social media that there have been knock off copies of your tarot decks (Everyday Witch Tarot and Everyday Witch Oracle) online. How prevalent of a problem is copyright infringement in your industry?

It’s insane. Until I became an author, I had no idea how bad the problem was, and it seems to be exploding exponentially. I get alerts daily about free downloads of my books (which not only means neither the publisher nor I make any money on them, but usually the people who download them get free viruses along with their stolen books) and I’m starting to get constant emails from people complaining to me that they bought a copy of the tarot for four dollars (instead of the 25-30 it should cost) and wondering why it didn’t come with the printed guidebook, or why there are cards missing—and can I please fix it. No, no I can’t. It is incredibly discouraging to work so hard and then have that work stolen.

9. Do you have any upcoming projects you want to share with our readers?

I do! I am working on a new book with Llewellyn which will be out sometime early in 2022, I think. It is The Modern Eclectic Witch’s Book of Shadows, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. It is going to be in full color! I also have a new cozy mystery series coming out from Berkley, about a woman who buys a rundown animal rescue. It’s actually loosely based on the shelter I got my cats Diana and Harry Dresden from, and I’m planning to donate part of my sales to them when it comes out. (February 2021.) The first book is called Furbidden Fatality. There is a little black kitten in it that might remind you of someone you once knew.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

I always see you posting amazing pictures of the breakfasts you get at local restaurants. I’m a little jealous! Which breakfast is your favorite?

Here in Ballston Spa, NY we have A LOT of great places to eat, run by so many passionate people. There are many delicious breakfasts to be found, but the absolute BEST way we’ve been doing breakfast is ordering the Breakfast Fries from The Ribbon Café. Brace yourself, it is a pile of fries, covered in sausage gravy (using sausage that’s made in house), with bacon, ham, cheese, and topped with a fried egg. We get it to go. Then stop at Nomad Coffee and Crepes, where the owner roasts his own coffee beans. There I get their new Espresso Fizz, which is iced espresso, with elder flower tonic, orange, and orange bitters. The two go together so well, and I’m being socially responsible getting it all as take out!

About Deborah Blake:
Deborah Blake is the award-winning author of the Baba Yaga and Broken Rider paranormal romance series and the Veiled Magic urban fantasies from Berkley.

Deborah has also written The Goddess is in the Details, Everyday Witchcraft and numerous other books from Llewellyn, along with popular tarot and oracle decks. She has published articles in Llewellyn annuals, and her ongoing column, “Everyday Witchcraft” is featured in Witches & Pagans Magazine.

Deborah can be found online at Facebook, Twitter, her popular blog (Writing the Witchy Way), and www.deborahblakeauthor.com She lives in a 130 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with various cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Fun fact, Deborah Blake LOVES doing a giveaways! So, she has agreed to send one of my readers in the United States a free copy of her new book, “Modern Witchcraft”! As usual, I’m using Rafflecopter. The giveaway is open until 07/12/2020 11:59 pm eastern.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

The Green Witch’s Grimoire

There is a joke about grimoires in the magical community, it goes something like, “I bought this gorgeous book to be my grimoire, but it’s too beautiful to write in.” It is funny because it is just about universally true. I have multiple BEAUTIFUL blank journals that have been untouched for years because I could never write anything worthy enough for its pristine gold gilded edges. Today’s book has made me reexamine everything I thought I wanted from a grimoire.

“The Green Witch’s Grimoire: Your Complete Guide to Creating Your Own Book of Natural Magic” by Arin Murphy-Hiscock delivers. It. Is. Complete. Try as I might, and I’ve given it a LOT of thought, I cannot come up with any angle or component of grimoires that Murphy-Hiscock might have missed. The title says, “Green Witch” but let me say, unless you are a magic practitioner that actively hates nature, anyone can use this book.

The first part of “The Green Witch’s Grimoire” is a journey to try to decide what your grimoire is going to be. What kind of paper will you use? How will the pages be held together? What will you use to write in it? Will you want to carry it with you? Do you want multiple volumes? Will it have sections? Templates? An index? Do you plan on incorporating samples of natural things? Will it be decorative, functional, both? There is a dizzying number of things to consider, and I’m fairly sure Murphy-Hiscock things of every last one.

The second part of the book discusses options for how to use your grimoire: journaling, writing spells, copying important information from research, cataloging the results of divination, as a mission statement, and obviously more.

I obviously love how thorough Murphy-Hiscock is in this book, but what I love the most is how she emphasizes there is no right way to create and use a grimoire, and that there’s nothing wrong with deciding you don’t like what you created and start over again.

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet