Laurie Cabot’s Book of Visions

Thank goodness for Copper Cauldron Publishing. Why? Many reasons, but in particular because of their work with Laurie Cabot. Do I need to tell you why Laurie Cabot is important? Probably not, but just in case, let me take a moment. She is probably best known as the Official Witch of Salem, Massachusetts. Cabot helped develop Salem, MA into the witchy epicenter that it is today. She has taught her Art and Science of Witchcraft for decades. In the realm of Witchcraft, she is an elder stateswoman, and in my opinion, a bad ass.

And thankfully Cabot has partnered up with Penny Cabot, Christopher Penczak, and Copper Cauldron Publishing to preserve her knowledge for future students of Witchcraft. Thus far Copper Cauldron has released “Laurie Cabot’s Book of Shadows”, “Laurie Cabot’s Book of Spells & Enchantments”, and most recently, “Laurie Cabot’s Book of Visions: A Collection of Meditations”.

Let’s talk about truth in advertising! This “Collection of Meditations” is loaded with just that, meditations. As someone who practices a Zen Buddhist style of meditation, I can assure you that there loads of different types of meditation. Cabot carefully outlines her Art of Science of Witchcraft theory of meditation. Once you’re comfortable with meditation the book goes on to outline all the ways you can use it: accessing healing, animal spirits, faerie realms, deities, and more.

“Laurie Cabot’s Book of Visions” is a truly unique offering in the meditation and magical book spaces, worth every penny.

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.

A Stampede of Unicorns

It’s here, the comparative review weeks in the making. Battle of the Unicorn Books! Through a combination of shipping mishaps and publishing trends, I received 3 different books centered on unicorns from two different publishers at the same time! When I realized I was up to my armpits in unicorn books, I thought it only made sense to read one after the other and do a big ol’ review. Better still, the shipping mishaps are enabling me to give some away too!

Who are the contenders in this battle royale?

“The Wonder of Unicorns: Ascending with the Higher Angelic Realms” by Diana Cooper
“Unicorn Magic: Awaken to Mystical Energy & Embrace Your Personal Power” by Tess Whitehurst
“Llewellyn’s Little Book of Unicorns” by Angela A. Wix

So, who was first?

That would be “The Wonder of Unicorns” by Diana Cooper. It was originally published in 2008 and is now being reprinted in a new edition as of November 2019. Next up is “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Unicorns” by Angela A. Wix, which was published September 2019. And last, but not least, is “Unicorn Magic” by Tess Whitehurst which also came out in November 2019.

“The Wonder of Unicorns” is 240 pages of angelic themed unicorns. It features full color illustrations by Damian Keenan throughout and is $18.99. For Cooper, unicorns are another aspect of the Divine. She explores unicorn legends with the perspective of them being angelic beings. Her book explains their angelic realm and hierarchy. She goes on to provide meditations and rituals to help you contact their dimension and work with them. They take on a Guardian Angel role in the lives of those who wish to invite them in. Out of the three books, “The Wonder of Unicorns” is definitely for those who wish to explore a potential angelic aspect to the creatures.

You can learn more here.

Next, what is black, white, and pink all over? “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Unicorns” by Angela A. Wix. It’s a 264 page hard cover perfectly sized to keep on you at all times. And you should keep it on you because her book does a great job of introducing unicorn energy into your life, and helping you recognize the unicorn that’s already there. Mundane tasks like cleaning take on a new energy. Beautiful crystals you may already own have new purposes. In fact, mindfulness, chakras, and more get a fresh unicorn perspective in this book!

You can learn more here.

I have a particular soft spot for the last title, “Unicorn Magic”, because it was written by Tess Whitehurst, who I had the pleasure of interviewing in 2015. Her book is filled to the brim with her positive, kick ass attitude. Whitehurst’s book is a 288 page self-help journey with a unicorn travel guide. She encourages you to find, create, and embrace beauty. If you want to be a better version of yourself, this is the book for you!

You can learn more here.

Now, thanks to the generosity of the publishers, we have a giveaway for ALL the books! That’s right! Follow the Rafflecopter contest below to enter. Contest ends at 11:59pm 01/19/2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not sure you’ll win? Reading this after the contest is over? Either way, below are affiliate links to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use these links to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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The Magick of Food

If you follow my personal social media accounts, you know I LOVE food. My pot belly and high cholesterol also attest to this fact, but that’s beside the point. You know who else truly loves food? Gwion Raven. I was fortunate enough to be given an uncorrected proof of his new book “The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings, and Why We Eat Together” and I was simply blown away.

The first section of the book is “A Brief and Incomplete History of Food and Ritual”. For being “incomplete”, Raven starts with a small exploration of what our primitive, cave dwelling ancestors perhaps ate and what it meant to them. What flows from that starting point is an engaging history lesson on the evolution of food, faith, and where the two intersected. We visit the food, gods, recipes, and rituals of the Middle East, Greece, Rome, and what the author refers to as “A Dark Age of Cuisine” (Britain).

The second section is “Food, Magic, and Rituals for Today”. Raven explores what he considers five basic principles for food magic:
1. All food is sacred.
2. Eat what you need.
3. Share what you can.
4. Express gratitude.
5. Pass the knowledge along.
The author explores the magic to be found in a cup of tea or dinner out in a restaurant. From this point he discusses the connection between food and arousal, healing, grief, community, and the Kitchen Witch. This section if filled with magical ideas, spells, rituals, and my favorite, recipes!

The third section of the book is “All the Recipes”! Here you find ways to make everyday “mundane” recipes magical, cocktails (yes!), mocktails (alcohol free beverages), and magical libations. Rounding out the section is “Food Magick for Special Occasions”. In a book full of tempting recipes, here is where you will find some truly stand out feasts: “Goat for a God” (which I really want to try), “In Praise of Inanna”, “Demeter’s Vegetarian Feast”, and “Boar for Bacchus”. Raven also includes “A Year of Food Magick”, offering recipes for Pagan celebrations, and little more love in the form of “Four Ridiculously Good Aphrodisiacs”.

Being a food lover, I find it hard to imagine a person who wouldn’t be interested in “The Magick of Food”. It’s well-written, entertaining, informative, and loaded with recipes! What more could you want?

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.

Your Goddess Year

Hello new year! Now is the perfect time to get your hands on “Your Goddess Year” by Skye Alexander!

Why? Because this beautifully illustrated book features a different goddess for each week of the year! For instance, you’re reading this during January 1-7, the first week of “Your Goddess Year”. The featured goddess is Sophia, who you learn from this book is less of a goddess and more like Wisdom incarnate. Not too shabby, right? The author gives a brief bit of background on each goddess, why you want to invite, or invoke her, if you will. Also included are instructions as to how you might want to go about doing that.

Alexander does an excellent job of presenting a diverse offering of female deities and women of power. Like who? Hera, Baba Yaga, Pele, Fortuna, Athena, Sekhmet, Oshun, and many more!

If you’re looking to learn more about the divine feminine, “Your Goddess Year” is a fantastic way to do that!

You can learn more here.

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The Great Smoke Off: Dueling Smoke Cleansing Books

As many publishers, authors, and publicists will tell you, I don’t crank out my book reviews that quickly. Stacks of books pile up while I slowly work my way through review copies and advance readers. There’s just a limit to how quick I can read and write, you know? One day, while scanning my heap of books to read I noticed two books of a similar theme: “Sacred Smoke: Clear Away Negative Energies and Purify Body, Mind, and Spirit” by Amy Blackthorn and “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing: Your Guide to a Powerful Healing Practice to Purify, Bless, and Inspire” by Kiera Fogg. I said to myself, self, why not read them both a write a review comparing them to each other? And here we are.

Let’s start with some core basics. “Sacred Smoke” by Amy Blackthorn came out in October 2019, has 192 pages in black and white with pretty line drawings that retails for $14.95. “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing” by Kiera Fogg came out June 2019, has 128 glossy, full color pages that retails for $21.99.

Who are the authors? Amy Blackthorn (who I interviewed in 2018) comes from a background of herbalism, horticulture, and green witchcraft. She owns Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, which sells teas inspired by traditional Hoodoo practices. Kiera Fogg’s background is in healing crystals and energy work. She owns Little Box of Rocks, a company that sells healing crystals.

Both books are well written. Both have some overlapping content. However, I feel the authors’ backgrounds are reflected in their books. Blackthorn’s book, “Sacred Smoke”, has more technical information that branches out in more directions. Specific ideas for utilizing smoke for witchcraft, self-care, magical practices, and spiritual practices. Fogg’s book, “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing”, has a much more generalized new age use vibe about it. Nothing wrong with that, heck, it’s pretty much how I roll. It also has to be mentioned that Fogg’s book has a very curated visual look to it. Her work is made for Instagram.

So, which book “wins”? Neither. Or both. Despite their surface similarities, both authors created wonderful books that pull on their individual strengths. In a perfect world, if you had the money and interest, you would buy both. As it is, I would suggest Fogg’s “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing” for those looking for more of a new age how-to, and Blackthorn’s “Sacred Smoke” for a more witchcraft oriented approach.

You can learn more about “Sacred Smoke” here.

You can learn more about “Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing” here.

Shop your local indie bookstore. You can buy Sacred Smoke here! <--- 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. Shop your local indie bookstore. You can buy Sacred Herb Bundles for Energy Cleansing here! <--- 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.

10 Questions with Natasha Helvin

Today we’re talking with the fascinating author of “Slavic Witchcraft” and “Russian Black Magic”, Natasha Helvin.

1. From what I understand, you lived in Russia until you were 18 years-old. What brought you to the United States?
I was born in Czech Republic and was raised in what’s today called Ukraine, but for almost 15 years I lived on a beautiful Greek island, before I came to the States. What brought me here, is what everyone else, yourself included, unless you are 100% Native American than you are immigrant. Maybe not your generation, but your mother or grandmother or great grandmother, came for the same reason we all do: freedom, opportunities and to live “THE American dream” lol.

2. How did your upbringing inform your magical work?
Not sure if this is the right question… It doesn’t really express me…You see, for me magical work has no separation from my life. It’s the way of living. Not certain/ part time conjuring or on my free time. My magic starts from the second I wake up, to the second I fell asleep. My upbringing exactly, is the way I was raised, and being raised by family of witches meaning you don’t do magic work you live by magic. In my radio podcasts I explain a little more about that. Superstition some call it, other call it magic, I call it life, I don’t know any different. Is what we say witchcraft is my nature and nurture.

3. How do you think Russian witchcraft differs from other culture’s versions of witchcraft?
I don’t think is different. I don’t believe witchcraft has nationality. It’s funny… My books are called so for commercial purpose and based on my background, but I really really like to believe that witchcraft has no nationality or race. Folk magic, this is how we call conjure/witchcraft act. To set an example, and I mention that before on my podcasts, when I was child my mother taught me to use human skin (dry skin from wife foot), to make wife calm down her violent and “go around” husband. There is a specific recipe for it. So, 30 years later, I saw with my own eyes lady doing same recipe in Haiti! My mother didn’t do voodoo, she has no idea what that is, and she never see African men in her life, as well as we didn’t have TV until I was 11! So folk magic. Has no identity, no race, no nationality.

4. Do you find people have misconceptions about Russia’s magical practices?
There are people have misconception about anything and everything, it’s fine, totally natural for human race. Sapienti sat!

5. You had two books release in 2019, “Slavic Witchcraft: Old World Conjuring Spells & Folklore” and “Russian Black Magic: The Beliefs and Practices of Heretics and Blasphemers”. How do the books differ?
In my first book, I would say it more spells -handbook, I’m focusing more on historical part and folklore/beliefs, my second book is more about dark side of folk magic, opposite-Christianity practices. I explain how people reacted to violent Christian baptism of (Russia/Ukraine) and how they converted paganism into so called satanic/demonic worshipping.. But! Not be confused with Christian Satanism. And this is I explain in my second book.

6. You’re also a priestess in the Haitian Vodou tradition. How did that come about?
I explore many religions, traditions and beliefs. Haitian Vodou was closest to my nature, ancestor wise, and working with the dead. I do not agree with some of the dogmas but practical part and foundation is I would say about 95% same to my own beliefs and tradition.

7. Have you experienced any push back for being a Caucasian American woman practicing Haitian Vodou?
As I mention before, people have all kind of problems with other people, or things, it’s a human nature. But what else I’m proud of is that my family raised me the way I am! I don’t really care what someone thinks of me. And by that I mean I don’t care at all. If I was, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and be assured, witchcraft/ occult are not for people who listening and suffer from other people’s opinions, crying at home and trying to be liked by everyone. You should NOT “fit in any box.” You need to be strong, you need to be master of your Spirit, otherwise you are in the wrong place.

8. With so many witchcraft traditions, what advice would you give to someone trying to find a path to follow?
Everyone listen to their inner self. What they called by.. Everyone has their own path, but we all stand on our ancestor’s shoulders. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. They fought for us, they died at wars and battles to protect us, they suffer hunger and humiliation, to make sure we are here today, do not forget that every time you look in the mirror. Always honor your ancestors.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects to share with my readers?
Yes, I’m working on my next book…it’s going to be more of a “biography” kind of book, called “Ancestral Witch: Being born into family of witches.”

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question?
Thank you! – Natasha Helvin

About Natasha Helvin:
Born in the Soviet Union, Natasha Helvin is an occultist, hereditary witch, and priestess in the Haitian Vodou tradition, as well as an avid scholar of other magical traditions. She learned the ancient Slavic secrets of magic and healing from her family and, as a child, often saw her grandmother and mother use magic in their everyday lives to help neighbors and friends. A professional rootworker, spiritual coach, and author of “Slavic Witchcraft” and “Russian Black Magic” she lives in the Pacific Northwest. https://www.worldofconjuring.com/

Shop your local indie bookstore! Buy Russian Black Magic here!

Shop your local indie bookstore. Buy Slavic Witchcraft here!

These are affiliate links 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.

The Magian Tarok

“Why aren’t more people talking about this book? Are people talking about this book? Did I miss people talking about this book?” These questions continually raced through my mind while reading “The Magian Tarok: The Origins of the Tarot in the Mithraic and Hermetic Traditions” by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D.

Over the years I’ve heard many stories about the origin of the tarot. Perhaps I’m not well read, or maybe I never dug far enough, but I don’t recall ever hearing about Mithraic origins. Not until “Magian Tarok”. Flowers explores the Major Arcana through the prism of Mithraic symbolism. Mithraism is a mystery cult that’s roots run through most of the ancient world. “Magian Tarok” does a great job explaining and exploring the subject.

As he gets into the spread of Mithraism to the Greco-Roman empire, Flowers explores how the magical alphabet, Stoeicheia, also relates to the tarot. Curious about Stoeicheia? Don’t worry, the book goes into the subject as well.

Flowers doesn’t discuss how to use the tarot, but I can’t help but feel like anyone interested in the tarot would benefit from reading “Magian Tarok”. Understanding the roots and evolution of the tarot can help bring a fresh perspective and new appreciation of the modern tarot deck.

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.

Favorite Things 2019

It’s that time again folks! That time when I look back at a year of articles and remind you about the best of the best things I wrote about this year. Looking at the list you’ll realize that not every item came out in 2019. My favorite things list is a recap of what I read or used in 2019, not necessarily a thing that released in 2019. So why now? Why not the end of December, or the beginning of January? Because I like to share my favorites while you still have time to buy them as gifts for people, or yourself.

And speaking of shopping, this year I’m including purchasing links (when I can) for IndieBound. IndieBound 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. I encourage you to shop local, independent bookstores when you can. If you can’t, I ask you to consider IndieBound.

Now, with no further ado, and presented in particular order…..

FAVORITE THINGS 2019

The Little Book of Cat Magic: Spells, Charms, and Tales by Deborah Blake
It’s hard not to be enchanted by this little book of cats. It’s written by Deborah Blake, a crazy cat lady in the best of ways. The book is filled with delightful kitty-centric illustrations. “The Little Book of Cat Magic” is great for anyone who loves cats.

You can read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Magical Dogs Tarot by Daniel Mueller and Mickie Mueller
From cats, to dogs. It’s hard not to love dogs, and thusly, it’s hard not to love “Magical Dogs Tarot”. Mickie Mueller is a fantastic artist, and her dogs are endearing and whimsical. Daniel Mueller wrote a wonderful companion book, thoughtfully capturing the spirit of canines and merging it with tarot. A great addition to any tarot collection, and obviously it’s fantastic for dog lovers.

You can read my original review here.

Crystals: A Guide to Using the Crystal Compass for Energy, Healing, and Reclaiming Your Power by Aisha Amarfio
This book is ALL about its Crystal Compass. Sure, Amarfio provides loads of information about crystals: uses, care of, properties, etc. However, what sets “Crystals” apart is the super convenient chart she created to go with the book. This colorful graph, aka, Crystal Compass, is an easy to use guide to incorporating crystals into all kinds of work. In a year that saw many great books on crystals, Amarfio’s creation of the Crystal Compass made her book a favorite of this past year.

You can read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance by David Salisbury
Written by a long-time activist, David Salisbury does a wonderful job of inspiring the reader to take action, mundane and/or magical. If you want to take action, this is the book to read.

You can read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Witchbody by Sabrina Scott
This year saw SO MANY fantastic releases. However, there was no other book like “Witchbody”. Scott created a graphic novel, filled with fantastic art that explores ecology, magic, spirituality, and more. It’s a journey unlike any other you’ll ever take with a book. In my opinion, “Witchbody” is a classic.

You can read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy
An amazing work exploring Crowley’s Thelema legacy following his death. Thelema’s fractures, power struggles, and ultimately, its staying power makes “One Truth and One Spirit” a worthwhile endeavor.

You can read my original review here
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You Can Buy Me Here

The Ark Animal Tarot & Oracle Deck by Bernadette King
Some of you may remember that back in April I backed, and promoted, a Kickstarter for this deck. Well, now it is out and I have my copy. It is just as good, if not better, than promised. A beautiful, sturdy box with a magnetic closer. Gorgeous, full color cards. It’s designed to be used as a traditional tarot deck and/or oracle!

You can read my original post about it here.

Witchcraft & Secret Societies of Rural England: The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen by Nigel Pennick
Pennick has created a book that is a highly readable blend of scholarly work and fantastical folklore. Trade unions that operate as secret societies is a trend that might be cool to bring back.

Read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

The Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead by Ellen Evert Hopman
I feel like this from my original review says it all, “And no one tells a plant’s story better than Ellen Evert Hopman.”

Read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen by Brad Warner
Brad Warner does Buddhism 101. Need I say more?

Read my original review here.

You Can Buy Me Here

Since this is my favorite things, but also a shopping list, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that The Magical Buffet has a bunch of fun merchandise, as well as a vintage witch collection of merchandise for sale now! The witchy collection goes away December 31, 2019.

Shop The Magical Buffet store here!

Penczak Discusses Grimassi

I reached out to author Christopher Penczak to discuss Raven Grimassi’s last book, “What We Knew in the Night”.

1. I just want to acknowledge up front that it feels so weird to phrase this in the past tense, but here we are. For any of my readers who may not be familiar with him, can you tell them who Raven Grimassi was?

I completely understand. I was talking about Raven to a new friend the other day, and she said, “I thought he passed.”
“He did,” I responded.
“But you are talking like he is still here.”
“He is.” And I truly believe that. She was new to Witchcraft, so it took her a bit to get what I meant by it, but I still sometimes forget he’s not physically with us when I want to call upon the phone and hear his voice. It’s been a weird year trying to get used to that, and remembering I can still talk to him, but in a different way.

You can learn all the formal stuff about Raven anywhere online. He was a prolific award winning writer and teacher, and an experienced occultist with a focus on Italian Witchcraft and his own tradition called Ash, Birch and Willow, but that doesn’t convey to everyone that Raven was, in this incarnation, an extremely loving and fun man, with a devious sense of humor, who enjoyed a glass of sloe gin and tonic, would give great advice and was deeply passionate about the mysteries of life and magick, which were one in the same to him.

Despite the humor and fun, Raven was deeply dignified, and could hold both that warm and that nobility of the Craft as a priest of the Craft. Throughout his illness, he held a sense of deep dignity, regardless of what was going on with his health. It was this presence of self I saw shine through in his classes and rituals and he held that in all how he lived and in how he died.

Raven wasn’t one to tout his prowess magically or psychically, but he was an excellent medium with a clear gift to talk to the spirits, and many magickal things would just occur around him, just in everyday life. He could see and point out the magickal around you with a keen awareness. The faces of creatures within the trees and land around him, that you might swear were not there until he pointed them out, always astounded me, and they were not just tricks of the eye, but had a presence he was sensing.

Raven was deeply concerned about the preservation of the mysteries, of the essence of the Craft and what it means. I think sometimes people misunderstood that passion, but it was deeply rooted in the wisdom of the ancestors, the desire to help people connect to something bigger than themselves, and to serve a greater good.

2. You, and the Temple of Witchcraft, had a close relationship with the Grimassis, how did that come about?

I was very lucky to be befriend Stephanie and Raven early in my own writing career. I believe we met at the Book Expo America, or BEA, in Los Angeles in 2003. I got to meet a lot of amazing people that year. I had met Donald Michael Kraig earlier, in 2002 at the Llewellyn offices, but we got to spend time at BEA and he was an old friend and former student of Raven’s, so I got some quality time with them both and Stephanie. I started my friendships with Ted Andrews, Richard Webster, and Kala Trobe on that trip. We got more time together at International New Age Show, or INATS, just a month or so later in Denver. I found out at one point that my publisher was touting me as the “next Scott Cunningham” to retailers, and both Raven and Don heard that, and were curious to meet me. I met a lot of Scott’s friends and family around that time, which was weird, though I didn’t know that was how I was being billed. Scott was also a student of Raven’s, and thankfully we all hit it off. Raven remarked that it was surprising how quickly the older generation of authors were welcoming to me years later, and I’m very grateful that happened. On my first major book tour for “The Outer Temple of Witchcraft”, Stephanie and Raven graciously opened their home to me, as I was on a budget. My last night of the tour in San Diego area, they hosted me, took me to dinner and then to the event and we hung out for two days. They were just starting work on “The Well Worn Path” card deck and I got to see Raven’s original sketches and the preliminary art with someone who wasn’t actually chosen for the project in the end. After that, we were at several festivals together and they kindly took me under their wing and showed me the ropes for festival work, as I had no idea what I was doing, or of the Pagan cultures beyond New England. We attended Pantheacon, Heartland, and the Florida Pagan Gathering together, along with a few more INATS.

When Raven and Stephanie decided to move out to New England, we visited more and did more local events together. When we began the Temple of Witchcraft, they were our first guest speakers and not long after that, were keynote speakers for our Templefest summer gathering. They have been tremendously supportive in our establishment and success, and offered great advice when things were difficult and how to handle tough situations and people. The community loves them and really feels the loss of Raven. We have fostered bonds between the students of Ash, Birch and Willow and the Temple, and one of their initiates, Julia Radford, even had a main part in our Qabalistic ritual at Templefest, along with Stephanie. We held a memorial altar for Raven at Templefest, and Stephanie shared an ancestral honoring song from their traditions with us.

3. Following Grimassi’s death, it was left to you and his spouse Stephanie to do the final edits of his last book. What was the experience of editing someone else’s work like?

While I have edited other people’s work, this was entirely different. To be of aid to a friend and mentor’s last book was humbling and while I’d like to say I had a clarity at the time about it, I am not sure I did. Although due to his health his passing wasn’t unexpected, I think I was still in shock at the reality of it and our deadline was literally the two weeks after his death, so editing came amid making funeral plans and helping host friends and family coming out for the services. Stephanie did the majority of it with him, and most of it was done the day before he passed. The rest were follow up queries. Much of that part was done together, in front of one computer or print out, going over the edits while Steve, Adam and I were staying with her, and other times Stephanie and I were on the phone, going over the file. We were often having to come to agreement that, yes, that is how Raven would want it, particularly when answering questions and queries from the in-house staff editors. Honestly, I’m giving myself a bit more time before I sit down and read it again cover to cover now that it’s in print. I have it on my “to read” pile and keep looking at it, but I’m not ready.

Tremendous thanks goes to Judika Illes, who was a guiding light, support and stopped us from freaking out too much, particularly about references we could not look up, as much of Raven’s library was still packed up from the move back into the main house after their fire. When we had to stop, to deal with funeral arrangements, Judika took over the parts we could not go further to do. I am deeply grateful as it felt like we had a lot of balls in the air to be juggled and were afraid to drop one. Folks at Weiser in general were just lovely to us both during that process.

4. I feel like this book, “What We Knew in the Night: Reawakening the Heart of Witchcraft” was Grimassi’s most honest, truest expression of his craft. Would you agree with that?

I really love the book, though I love most of his books. But I think “What We Knew in the Night” reveals a Raven Grimassi who is quite honestly out of fucks to give. And by that I don’t mean he doesn’t care about the book, quite the opposite, but he’s writing from a place where he has nothing to prove to anyone, just to share what he has known, lived, and seen.

I remember the first conversations about it. He asked me on a road trip to do some shopping in Northampton, MA, if I had heard about “x,” a little-known technique. I hadn’t. Then he told the story of how he learned it, and a strange world of quiet occultists and Witches, sharing knowledge if you were in the right place and the right time. His telling of this youthful stories reminded me of some of the chats and teachings I would receive just hanging out with him at the house, or by the fire at a Pagan festival. After a few stories, he told me he was thinking about writing about these things, and what they meant to him, how he used them and asked me if younger Witches would be interested. I was, so I did think so, and he began the book. The vision morphed a few times as he worked on it, but that was the essence of it.

While his other books, perhaps until his Weiser books, were heavy on the academics as a reference, he began a process about sharing more intimate practices. I think the DVD “Ever Ancient, Ever New: Witchcraft by the Hearthside” helped him get into a new mode of writing, as that hearthside experience was mentioned a lot with this book and the origins of the material when he was a young Witch in California, being introduced to these unusual Craft folk by others in the community.

While he planned it to be his last Witchcraft book, he had a lot of ideas for other books on occultism, history and spirituality on his mind and I am sad that they won’t be in the world and I won’t get to read them.

5. What separates the witchcraft discussed in the book with other witchcraft titles?

This book has a level of grit, or realness, to it because the focus is not on providing an academic argument as a foundation for understanding. The foundation was in a time that some would think is past in the craft, a time of study with elders, and learning mouth to ear that Raven is preserving by this important work. While having his own experience with the material, it’s also not his own pure gnosis, but set in a foundation of what came before, yet conveyed in that very earthy, tactile way that speaks to the soul of the Witch. He describes it through his own eyes and use, in his own poetic style that was evident in his rituals and music. He even takes on the concepts of academics head on in preparing you for the material of the book.

6. “What We Knew in the Night” outlines 5 steps to following the witchcraft tradition Grimassi discusses. Can you briefly outline them for our readers?

Raven described five steps to his idea of quintessence, and they are:

1. Gathering the Virtue of the Moon – this step is drawing to you the beneficial qualities and powers of the Moon through a “V” shaped hand gesture. This teaching has one of my favorite quotes ever from Raven: “Remember that this moon is the exact same one that every Witch from the past once looked upon.” This Virtue of the Moon is the energy of Witchcraft that guides us in the work.

2. Meeting the Wafting – the Wafting of the Night is the pre-sentient energy of the night, of the primordial darkness. It is an awareness that wafts from the trees, giving us an experience of the mystical. Through words of power, we become aware of its presence, and it becomes aware of ours, and shares in our magical work.

3. Aligning the Witch’s Blade – the work of Aligning with the Witch’s Blade is one of uniting the stars and the darkness of the underworld, and uses some often forgotten traditional techniques of heating the blade, plunging it in cold water with herbs and roots, and magnetizing it.

4. Creating the Clay Witch’s Pentacle – the device of the Witch’s Clay Pentacle is one of the cthonic underworld. The pentacle also as an embodiment of the terrestrial world helps create the final link of the circuit between the heavens and the underworld.

5. Making the Witch’s Ring – the ring uses a stone that has two mates, one within the pentacle and one upon the altar as an altar stone, allowing the work of these five aspects of Witchery to be mobile with the Witch at all time, via the power of the ring. The three stones create a “trine” or harmonious aspect with the powers gathered, and allows the deeper alignment of the heavens, earth and underworld, the classic three worlds of the Witch.

It’s really a beautiful system he has shared involving aspects and elements of things he has both talked about and written about for years, but its framed in a very poetic, magickal and evocative way.

7. What is the one thing you want to make sure my readers know about Raven Grimassi?

That he was, and is, a man of deep honor and love.

8. You, along with Steve Kenson and Adam Sartwell, founded the Temple of Witchcraft. How are things going with the Temple?

Things are really good overall. We are currently in our academic sessions for online classes and have a wonderful group of students in study. We are making plans for our community center, seeking approval with our town planning board and generally enjoying the Hallow’s season.

9. What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share with my readers?

I am in the process of helping in the work of another mentor and friend, Laurie Cabot, as Copper Cauldron releases Laurie Cabot’s “Book of Visions”, a meditation book, for the yuletide season. I also have three books in various stages of production I hope to have out next year if all goes well.

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

I know you’ve attended many events in the Northeast and I believe you’ve met Raven. What’s your favorite Raven memory?

I remember one year at Celebrate Samhain, an annual event in New Hampshire, Raven was one of the speakers. I don’t remember the topic of his talk, not even a little. However, the thing I remember was him thanking the audience and talking about his readers. He spoke with such genuine appreciation that it was then I decided I liked him. I’ve seen him speak or attended a class he instructed several times, but him thanking everyone, that’s the memory that sticks out.

You can learn more about “What We Knew in the Night” here.

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About Raven Grimassi:
Raven Grimassi was a neo-pagan scholar and award-winning author of more than 12 books on witchcraft, Wicca, and neo-paganism. He was a member of the American Folklore Society and was a co-founder and co-director of the Crossroads Fellowship, a modern Mystery School tradition. Photo credit: Peter Paradise, Raven Wolfe Photography

About Christopher Penczak:
Christopher Penczak is a modern Witch, teacher, and healer. He is the author of the acclaimed Inner Temple of Witchcraft series and of “Gay Witchcraft”, Weiser Books, 2003. He offers classes and workshops throughout the U.S. Visit him at: www.christopherpenczak.com.

10 Questions with Mallorie Vaudoise

Today we’re talking with Mallorie Vaudoise, author of “Honoring Your Ancestors”. We talk about family, mediumship, Italian magic, and more!

1. What is ancestor veneration?

Any spiritual practice that connects us with the people who were here before us is a form of ancestor veneration. This could take the form of prayer, ritual, and offerings. Or it could take the form of genealogical research, cooking traditional foods, and playing folk music.

Ancestor veneration is found throughout the world. Even within our own culture, which I consider spiritually impoverished, we still see the impulse to hold funerary rituals, create memorials, and leave offerings of flowers at cemeteries.

My book is about adding new depth and color to these simple actions. It’s also about grounding your magical practice in a loving relationship with these powerful spirits who have a vested interest in you as their descendant.

2. What sparked your interest in working with ancestors?

I was a weird kid. Some of that weirdness was unique to me. But in retrospect, some of it was a failure to integrate messages that I was receiving from spirits through mediumship. I didn’t have a framework for understanding the weird physical and emotional sensations that I now associate with spirit contact. And yet, there were some things that I could perceive, like the presence of my great-grandparents around me.

As an adult, I became involved in two lineages of African-diasporic traditions. Both traditions required me to undergo rituals aimed at nourishing and seeking the blessing of my ancestors before I could be initiated. They gave me a practical understanding of the phenomena that I had experienced throughout my life. It was life changing. I wanted to share the gift of ancestral consciousness with other people, outside of any traditional lineage. That’s why I wrote the book: as a guide for people who don’t have the benefit of a tradition or teacher, so they can find their own path. Or for people who are working within a tradition but want to further develop their ancestor veneration practice into something more personal.

3. In your book you explain there are different types of ancestors. Can you explain this for our readers?

When we think of ancestors, sometimes we assume these are always blood relations. I definitely think there is an inherent power in connecting with your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. because they made your body with their bodies. So, as ancestors, they are connected to the great Mysteries of incarnation: birth, death, and rebirth.

But there are other types of ancestors that we may honor as well. For example, the ancestors of an initiatic lineage might consider you their descendant as much as your blood ancestors if you ritually died and were reborn as their godchild. We also have connections to ancestors that come about without ritual initiation that I refer to as “affinity ancestors”. And of course, there are other spirits of dead humans that we might incorporate into our ancestor veneration practice, like saints and spirit guides.

At the end of the day, they’re your ancestors. You get to decide who you honor and how. You’re already the high priest/ess of this religion. That means you have the power and the responsibility to honor them in a way that works for both sides of the equation.

4. Can ancestor veneration be incorporated into any spiritual practice?

If you’ve got ancestors, you can venerate them. How you do it and how it relates to your other spiritual practices is entirely up to you.

5. Is making offerings a requirement of ancestor veneration? What constitutes an offering?

I don’t think there are any universal requirements in ancestor veneration. But offerings can be profoundly meaningful for many people, especially for those of us who were raised never to show up to a party empty-handed.

An offering is anything given as a gift to your ancestors. This could be incense, food, or flowers. It could be the sacrifice of time or money to charity. I consider writing this book the biggest offering I’ve made to the ancestors to date.

6. You talk about mediumship as part of ancestor veneration in the book. What is mediumship?

Ancestor veneration is a two-way street. If prayers and offerings are communication in one direction, then mediumship is communication in the other direction.

Unlike other spirits, our ancestors were all once human. They remember what it’s like to have a body, to go hungry, to fall in love, to stub their toes, to feel feelings, and to have dreams. Just like us, they once chose to come here and learn the lessons that can only be learned through a human body. But their day was different from our day, and their lessons where different from our lessons. Through mediumship, they can share their learnings with us so we can be free to focus on the new lessons we have come here to experience.

7. Can anyone perform mediumship, or do you need to have special gifts to do it?

Anyone can perform mediumship. But what that looks like for you may differ from what it looks like for me. Some people see spirits. Some people hear them. I am always shocked to find how many people feel them physically like I do.

I’ve met mediums who can give hard facts, like names and dates, through mediumship. I’m not that type of medium. But names and dates wouldn’t be terribly helpful for me anyway. I need guidance on how to accomplish the unique work that my spirit chose to incarnate for. Names and dates aren’t going to help me with that.

Mediumship is like any other skill. Anyone can do it. Not everyone can do it in the same way. But ultimately, if you want to get better at it, you have to practice it.

8. You have a beautiful website, Italian Folk Magic. What inspired you to create a site devoted to the subject matter?

I’m Italian-American. Growing up, it felt like my family was haunted by Italy. I was raised with stories about how difficult my grandparents and great-grandparents’ lives were, both in Italy and when they immigrated to the United States. But at the same time, it was almost taboo to talk about our heritage. That tension between the depth of gratitude that I was taught to show and the shame my family had acquired about our roots led me to go searching for our ancestral traditions. I wanted to find the things we had sacrificed to become American: the passion, the ecstasy, the magic.

At the time, there were very few resources on the topic in English. Now, I see more and more Italian-Americans proudly embracing their heritage in the form of traditional herbalism, devotion to the saints, and yes, folk magic. I like to think my site played a small part in inspiring other Italian-Americans to explore their roots.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects my readers can look forward to?

Right now, I’m focused on getting Honoring Your Ancestors to as many people as possible. Your readers can stay a part of that conversation by following me on Instagram and Facebook.

I think of myself as a missionary for the spirit world. I started with the ancestors because people were already asking me about them. But I’d like to start writing more about other types of spirits: spirits of place, for example. Ultimately, the goal of all of my projects is to remind people that they are not alone. We are all connected with each other and with a vast ecosystem which includes every other living organism as well as discarnate spirits.

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

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from a dead person?

“Don’t check the value of your retirement accounts daily, it will just make you crazy. You’ve got a long time to retirement.” That’s what my father always said, and now my day job is working for a financial advisor and seriously, a lot of people would be a lot happier if they followed this advice.

About Mallorie Vaudoise:
Mallorie Vaudoise is a NYC-based spiritualist of Italian descent. She is the author of Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration (Llewellyn, 2019) and Italian Folk Magic, a blog about devotional practices from Southern Italy and Sicily. She is an initiated Olorisha (Orisha priestess) and an apprentice in the ecstatic music and dance traditions of her ancestors. She believes that music, food, wine, and kissing are vital tools of spiritual evolution. Visit Mallorie online at www.roadsideomens.com or follow her Instagram account @honoringyourancestors.

<---Shop your local indie bookstoreThis 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.