Swept Away by The Witch’s Broom

Since pretty much always brooms have been associated with witches. And although Deborah Blake’s latest is called “The Witch’s Broom: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Broomsticks”, there is something there for more than just a Witchy reader.

Don’t get me wrong, “The Witch’s Broom” has loads for the witch who is looking to add a broom into their magical routines. Ritual use of brooms, spells and charms incorporating brooms, and segments Blake calls “Real Witches, Real Brooms” where other notable Witches talk about how they use brooms in their practices are all there for the magical practitioner.

However there are loads of great stuff to be found for the non-Pagan, non-Wiccan, non-magical practitioner. Just your average John Q. Broomfan. You can learn how to make your own broom, how to decorate store bought brooms, and get great gift ideas. I know I’m eager to hit the craft store now for some shopping. Also, there is fun broom folklore and history.

Oh, and there are wonderful, whimsical, interior illustrations throughout the book by Mickie Mueller. The totally adorable cover art was done by John Kachik.

“The Witch’s Broom” is just such a fun, informative read. I promise if this review has piqued your interest you will enjoy the book. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to buy some new brooms.

Sacred Objects, Sacred Space

“Sacred Objects, Sacred Space: Everyday Tools for the Modern-Day Witch” by Dayna Winters, Patricia Gardner, and Angela Kaufman isn’t necessarily a direct follow up to their first book “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions”, but if you were smart and followed my recommendation and bought their first book, this is an obvious “must buy”. For those of you who may need, or want, a bit more information than that, here we go.

The ladies (Winters, Gardner, and Kaufman) did it again. Just like “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?”, “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space” manages to pack an insane amount of information into a compact little space. The writing never feels rushed or overwhelming, and yet in under 200 pages you will read about any tool you can imagine. Seriously! Here’s just a taste to get you going: potion bottles, cauldrons, poppets, Book of Shadows, candles, athame, mirrors, mala beads, singing bowls, and believe it or not, more! And with each item they discuss appropriate care, maintenance, and any cautions you need to be aware of with the item. I really enjoyed that with each item they also included craft ideas to decorate or personalize the items, or sometimes how to create the item from scratch.

But that’s just the objects part of “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space”. When it comes to spaces, they leave nothing out; living rooms, closets, dorm rooms, offices, balconies, bedrooms, gardens, and more. They cover the use of color in the home and creating your home altar.

If you want to know about everything that’s everything having to do with magical tools and spaces, “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space” is for you. Dayna Winters, Patricia Gardner, and Angela Kaufman (yes, of Moonlight Tarot) have created another book that seriously, honestly, and truly you should own. I hope they have another one in the works!

A Year at Stonehenge

A wonderful book showed up on my doorstep that transported me to the magical world of Stonehenge. With the holidays fast approaching I’m eager to share with all of you “A Year at Stonehenge” by James O. Davies with an introduction by Mike Pitts.

© English Heritage/James O. Davies 2013

For the last 23 years James O. Davies has been an architectural photographer for English Heritage. He has contributed to many books in that time and his work has been widely published and exhibited throughout the world. He is also a portrait photographer, having twice exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery. He has taken the official portrait of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Davies spent the last 5 years photographing Stonehenge at all times of day and night, and all through the seasons. He was given privileged access to the site so he built up an amazing portfolio. As you can see from the photos here.

© English Heritage/James O. Davies 2013

Amazing doesn’t do his work justice. Davies work with Stonehenge is mind blowing. Obviously I’ve always appreciated Stonehenge, how can you not? However I’m not sure I’ve ever truly seen the magic of Stonehenge until I received “A Year at Stonehenge”. Better still, Davies photos brought out the best in Mike Pitts who provided the introduction.

© English Heritage/James O. Davies 2013

Instead of getting someone to wax poetic about the beauty and magic of Stonehenge they wisely brought Mike Putts in to provide the introduction. Pitts is a well-known expert on the subject of Stonehenge being the author of “Hengeworld”. He began his career as an archaeologist and museum curator. He is now a freelance journalist specializing mainly in archaeology, while continuing to conduct original research at Stonehenge where he has directed excavations. In other words, he kind of knows his shit when it comes to Stonehenge.

© English Heritage/James O. Davies 2013

The pairing of these two makes “A Year at Stonehenge” a really special book.

I kick ass! Buy me!

Celebrate Samhain 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013, was the 8th annual Celebrate Samhain event in Peterborough, NH. This was my 4th year attending. That’s right folks, I’ve been there for half of this event’s lifespan. Why does this make me feel oddly old?

There were a few things that caused the energy to be “off” this year. We were all missing Cucina Aurora and its head kitchen witch in-chief Dawn Hunt, who was absent due to a death in the family. Her effervescent personality and delicious food were sorely missed. Also, Mike Dolan of Haunted Wood wasn’t around this year with his hearty laugh and giant bear hugs.

However, there were a few things that added some new fun. Jess G., co-founder and co-coordinator, who also happens to be a kick butt roller derby lady, spent the WHOLE day on roller skates. Let me tell you, she has some crazy skills! We were also blessed with beautiful weather, which was perfect for this year’s catering option of Goodness Gracious food truck. They were set up right outside the one entrance/exit to the venue.

Jess could move mountains in those skates!

Shopping, as usual, was excellent. I started telling people that Celebrate Samhain was the biggest shopping day of my year. Stuff purchased as holiday gifts I must keep mum about, but I picked up plenty of stuff to brag about/share with you. I picked up a little something at Muse Gifts & Books (that I must keep to myself) (but it’s pretty awesome) (you so wish you knew) (and could see) (it rocks is what I’m saying) (if I were to say anything). I restocked at FairySpa. I was literally down to a teeny, tiny square of my Goat’s Milk Facial Cleansing Bar and I finally got another bottle of Intense Lotion. Yay! I can feel almost human again!

Obviously I visited the Temple of Witchcraft table. This is where Christopher Penczak, Steve Kenson (wake up gamer friends!), and Adam Sartwell live! I picked up a copy of “Feast of the Morrighan: A Grimoire for the Dark Lady of the Emerald Isle”, which was the topic of his talk at last year’s Celebrate Samhain. I also learned that next year’s Templefest will be August 2-3, 2014. Save the date! I keep wanting to make it back. The Temple of Witchcraft folks put together a well organized event and were very welcoming. They haven’t announced any speakers yet, but I bet Christopher Penczak will be one!

I HAD to visit my friends at Inkubus since they had a booth again this year. I picked up a new table cloth for Dia de los Muertos. Another gift was also purchased. (It is so freakin’ cool. Cooler than the table cloth. So bad ass. You really wish you could see it. Seriously.) They were also nice enough to let me and Jim pick a few sugar skulls from their basket o’ skulls! Lastly, we visited Alchemy’s booth. What can I say? It’s as if someone had created an entire jewelry store just for me! You know how some famous people will wear one jewelry designers work almost exclusively? If I ever become rich and famous, I will wear Alchemy’s Tisha Harris’s curated work almost exclusively. (I have to leave room for Deborah Blake!) I bought myself a pink skull and cross bones cameo ring. That’s right boys, I’ve got myself a rum drinking ring! Watch out if you see me wearing it because that shows I means business.

Alchemy, where I shall do ALL my jewelry shopping!

Again I was amazed at the caliber of speakers that this event in Peterborough, NH attracts. Opening was Matooka Moonbear, who spoke about “Connecting and Working with Animal Spirit Guides”. I totally missed her introduction, but I recognize her as a member of the Temple of Witchcraft. I missed her talk catching up with people and going to get a palm reading from the wonderful Juliet Bell. Following her was musician Michael Long Rider. I didn’t get to watch him perform because….SHOPPING….but I got to enjoy his performance while browsing wares.

After that, my ass was planted and didn’t move. First was Christopher Penczak, “Avalon: The Isle of Nine Morgans”. Spoiler alert, this was my favorite talk of the event. It was a little all over the place but that was good because I wanted to actually hear more about Guinevere, Lancelot, and Arthur! Christopher, don’t just take on the Morgans in your writings, cover the whole Arthur mythology.

Christopher Penczak getting his groove on.

Then Raven Grimassi spoke about “The Mystery of Reincarnation and the Inner Teachings of the Sacred Tree”. As always, Grimassi was an excellent speaker and I’m always touched by the gratitude he shows at the end of his talks. I felt like such a Celebrate Samhain hipster. When someone asked me if I enjoyed his talk I said, “His talk was quite good; touched on a lot of themes from a talk he gave at a Celebrate Samhain 3 years ago.” It’s true! Those actual words came out of my mouth. If you haven’t been to 4 years of Celebrate Samhain, you just can’t hang.

Raven Grimassi working his mojo.

The last speaker for the day was Dorothy Morrison who’s topic was “Magic Down and Dirty”. I had never seen Morrison speak before and she is a total hoot. A fun Southern accent, beautiful fingernails, glittering jewelry, and a great black scoop neck shirt. She’s definitely a character that’s not to be missed.

A not entirely great photo of the lovely Dorothy Morrison.

With all the talks out of the way it was time to rock! That’s when Frenchy and the Punk took the stage. This is when long time Magical Buffet readers can all be hipsters by saying, “I knew them when they were The Gypsy Nomads.” As always, they were fantastic! So full of energy. The Celebrate Samhain crowd loves Frenchy and the Punk! They demanded more songs and when Samantha (aka Frenchy) asked for titles the crowd eagerly provided fan favorites.

Samantha and Scott kicking ass and taking names.

Coordinators Jess G. and Kevin Satoris with all their volunteers put together a great event. Their hard work has made Celebrate Samhain an amazing even that I look forward to every year and I suspect I’m not the only one. (Readers that offered input on The Magical Buffet’s Facebook page, I’m wearing the Hello Kitty shirt you guys picked!)

(left to right) Jess, Me, Kevin Satoris

New Paths to Animal Totems

Animal totems are something I was interested in but never really explored. I always sort of felt that you needed to be a big nature lover to work with animal totems and if you know me, you know that me and nature do not get along. I’m allergic to just about everything that grows and every animal. All fur, feathers, dander, down, all of it. However, Lupa’s new book “New Paths to Animal Totems: Three Alternative Approaches to Creating Your Totemism” really opened my eyes.

Lupa explains how you don’t have to be tied to the Native American model that so many books and websites tend to favor. She offers three alternative models to discerning your totems: correspondences, bioregional, and archetypal. In correspondences Lupa discusses discovering your totem/totems using the directions, the Chinese or Western Zodiac, the Tarot and more. Bioregionalism is finding your totems not from within arbitrary boundaries such as state lines but instead from a place defined by natural phenomena such as waterways and geographic formations. Last is archetypal which is more psychological than other options. It matches our internal impulses and instincts to what we know of nonhuman animals, creating a personalized map of both the internal self and the world we inhabit. Lupa offers exercises, meditations, and examples for all of these so the seeker has a companion working with them along their path. She also discusses the option of combining these totemic paths.

Additionally, Lupa discusses ways to interact with, honor, and assist your totem animal. There’s a guided meditation for helping find your totem animal. My favorite extra is a list of animal nonprofits.

“New Paths to Animal Totems” is a great book for anyone looking for a new perspective, or for someone new like me. I thought that someone housebound like myself couldn’t have a relationship with a totem animal, but Lupa’s writing opened my eyes. Ideally yes, being out in nature is great. However many people have totem animals that aren’t found in nature where they live, so being outside doesn’t effect the relationship one way or the other. That’s a pretty big leap from one book. Just think what “New Paths to Animals” might teach you.

Corresponding with Sandra Kynes

What to say about “Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences: A Comprehensive & Cross Referenced Resource for Pagans & Wiccans” by Sandra Kynes. Essentially my first reaction was; Holy shit! I apologize for the profanity, but that was truly my reaction when I pulled this hefty book out of its package. It must have been an extreme undertaking for author Sandra Kynes. There’s just so much information in there! It’s over 500 pages long!

Kynes new book is divided up into issues, intentions, and powers along with their correspondences at the beginning. Next are sections dealing with plants, minerals, animals, deities, astrological, and miscellaneous that are all cross referenced with each other. Not to mention the delightful index. The amount of information to be found within each area is amazing, even as Kynes is apologizing and acknowledging that more could have been added. Did I mention more than 500 pages?

She presented the information in these cross referenced sections to allow readers more options when working with correspondences. Kynes explains that the way these books normally work, the research creates a pin wheel. Her example is you look up love and you find that the Moon is associated with love. That would normally be the end. However the way Kynes has done things you look up love and you learn that the Moon has a link to love (as before), but now you’ll see that the Moon is associated with the Sapphire gemstone and perhaps that clicks with you more, or perhaps that is something you feel can reinforce what you’re doing. Kynes says that “We can bring correspondences to life by thinking in terms of a web. Doing so allows us not only to expand the links of attributes, but it also allows us to personalize the way we use magical correspondences.”

“Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences: A Comprehensive & Cross Referenced Resource for Pagans & Wiccans” is truth in advertising. And it’s true that it does have a definite Pagan/Wiccan lean to it, but it is certainly well researched and resourceful enough that any occult/magic user would find it a handy book to have on their shelf.

Another 10 Questions with Deborah Blake

1. What made you decide to write “Everyday Witch Book of Rituals”?
Mostly popular request! I’d begun to think I’d said everything I had to say about the modern witch’s practice, but people kept asking me for rituals. In addition, I’d always wanted to write a follow-up to my first book—Circle, Coven & Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice. One of the things I loved about that book is that it made a year of Pagan practice easy by giving you everything you needed to celebrate full moons, new moons, and Sabbats…but it was designed mostly for covens (witches working together) and I wanted to write one that was aimed at both solitaries and group witches, and had a little something added.

2. How do rituals differ from spells?
A spell is simpler—usually a kind of prayer or request or putting intentions out into the world (sometimes rhyming, sometimes not). They’re often fairly short; anywhere from two lines to twenty or forty. A spell is often used at some point during a ritual, although not always.

3. How does “Everyday Witch Book of Rituals” differ from one of your early books, “Circle, Coven, and Grove”?
As I said before, CC&G was a book for coven practice, while Everyday Witch Book of Rituals is aimed at everyone (although lots of solitaries told me they used the earlier book and loved it anyway). There’s also a lot more detail about why and how we do rituals, as well as rituals for special occasions like handfastings, Wiccanings (child blessing), eldering, passing over rites and more. And, of course, some sage advice from Magic the Cat.

4. What was the most difficult part about writing a book of rituals?
Trying to create rituals that would work for witches who were just starting out, while not boring witches who had been practicing for years. (I think I pulled it off. My readers will have to let me know.)

5. What do you hope readers take away from “Everyday Witch Book of Rituals”?
I hope they get a sense for what ritual can add to our lives in a spiritual sense, as well as how useful rituals can be to celebrate the magickal year.

6. What other books would you recommend for readers wanting to learn more about working with rituals?
There are lots of great books out there with rituals in them, and few that are focused entirely on rituals. If you are a beginning solitary, Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner is a good one to start with, if you like more ornate and complicated rituals, you should take a look at Raven Digitalis’s Planetary Spells & Rituals. Another couple of good ones are A Year of Ritual: Sabbats & Esbats for Solitaries and Covens, by Sandra Kynes and Dorothy Morrison’s Everyday Moon Magic: Spells and Rituals for Abundant Living (anything of hers is great, really).

7. Readers may or may not know that your cat, Magic, generally helps with most of your work. How much input did Magic have in this book?
She wrote a section on how to practice rituals with a familiar, which she considers to be the most important part of the book. Other than that, she did her usual fabulous job of sitting on the back of my chair and supervising me as I wrote. It is a well-known fact that I am not, in fact, capable of writing without feline supervision, which is why you will never find me typing away in a coffeehouse.

8. And as long as we have Magic’s attention, who is Magic’s favorite cat: Garfield, Sylvester, or Tom (of “Tom and Jerry” fame)?
Wait, I’ll go ask her. *sound of receding footsteps* *sound of cat sitting down at the laptop* “Don’t be ridiculous. Cats don’t eat lasagna. And they don’t get their butts whupped by teeny tiny birds or mice. None of these are on my favorite cat list. Puss in Boots, now, HE was a clever cat.”

9. Do you have any other projects that my readers can look forward to?
I am currently working on my seventh book for Llewellyn, tentatively titled “A Broom for Every Witch.” It is all about the different kinds of broomstick magick you can do, as well as everything you ever wanted to know about brooms. I’m having a lot of fun writing it, and can’t wait to share it with everyone (probably late in 2014). In the meanwhile, if people haven’t read my fiction, they can find my ebook, Witch Ever Way You Can, at Amazon, B&N, and Itunes. And yes, there’s a witch in it!

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.
What is your favorite thing to eat at Panera Bread? (And when are you coming to visit and bringing me some?)

I don’t think I can pick a favorite. There is a lot of stuff I like at Panera. When I’m forgetting calories at breakfast I go with a Cinnamon Crunch bagel, and I love when they have the seasonal Trail Mix bagel! Lately I’m in love with their version of the BLT which is bacon, lettuce, and tomato, but also avocado and turkey too! Seriously, you need to keep this girl AWAY from Panera! But when I come to see you, I’ll be sure to have some. Maybe later this month?


Deborah Blake is a Wiccan High Priestess who has been leading her current group, Blue Moon Circle, for many years. She is the author of six books on modern Witchcraft from Llewellyn Worldwide, including The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch, Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook, Witchcraft on Shoestring and Everyday Witch Book of Rituals.. Deborah was a finalist in the Pagan Fiction Award Contest and her short story, “Dead and (Mostly) Gone” is included in The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction. She is also the author of Witch Ever Way You Can, a paranormal romance featuring…of course…a witch. She is represented by agent Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency.
When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend. She lives in a 100+ year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

10 Mostly City Magick Questions with Christopher Penczak

1. “City Magick: Spells, Rituals, and Symbols for the Urban Witch” was your first book that was published. How does it feel to see it back in print?

It’s honestly a little weird. Though I am very happy with the book and how it started my writing career, I feel a lot less attached to it now and it feels like a lifetime away. I no longer work in the city and have those same issues, so when folks want to talk intensely about it, I feel a little disconnected. I just moved into a lovely home with a barn and five acres in New Hampshire, and we’re setting it up to be the home of the Temple of Witchcraft. I find the woods calling to me more and more, and only in the cities when I travel to teach.

2. What had inspired you to write “City Magick”?

I was working at Fort Apache, a Boston area recording studio and record label. I had just gotten my first degree in Witchcraft, and shifted from this more coven based, outdoor practice in the suburbs of New Hampshire to working all the time in Cambridge, and staying out late at shows and events in Boston. My time off was between office hours and the next show, and I was trying to squeeze a magickal practice in at that time. The techniques naturally grew out of my experiences there and some inspiriation from my partner, Steve Kenson, and his approach to magick through Chaos Magick. Some Peter Carrol, Phil Hine and Grant Morrison helped me on my way.

I kept good notes on my practice, and when I found myself no longer employed, I began writing about it to fill the time and soon had a book to publish.

3. I think many Pagan magic users feel the closer to nature the better. Are there perhaps any advantages to city based magic?

I think it teaches you to feel the current of life force anywhere you are. I think someone who can only practice in nature isn’t really paying attention and needs to gain better percpetion and connection. Nature is everywhere. It is tenaciously growing through the city cracks and found upon the streets no matter where they are. Cities have their own nature, their own ecosystems, their own spirit systems, and they are available to us.

4. At this point in your career you’ve traveled quite a bit, are there any cities you find particularly magical?

Seattle. I love Seattle. Great harmonious mix of nature and city, art and magick. Just returned from there actually, so I might be a little biased. I find San Francisco, Boston and New York City particularly magickal. London is overwhelmingly magickal. At times I feel like I’m wading through the aura of London, but at other times, it’s easier. I wonder if that has to do with seasonal or astrological alignments. Cities have astrology and charts, just like people. They have their own persona and character and life their share with their inhabitants.

5. “City Magick” offers an extensive list of exercises for readers to try such as Sidewalking and TV Scrying. What are some of your favorites and why?

The Sidewalking is still one of my favorite – to attune to the energy and currents and spirits just when out for a walk. You can do it in the woods on a trail, or in the city through downtown. It helps you pick up on what is present energetically wherever you are.

I also like looking for magickal symbols in graffiti art. That is still inspiring. I used to blog about it when I traveled, but haven’t done it in a while.

6. In “City Magick” you discuss magic having three basic building blocks, “the three Rs: reality, rapture, and ritual”. Do you still use those building blocks when discussing magic now, 11 years later?

I don’t think I use that same language today. I tend to focus now on the teachings of the Temple of Witchcraft, and the three there have gotten boilded down to clear intent, strength of will and a method to direct energy. There are some parallels, but not an exact match. I think for the Temple, it was more about basic spell casting magick to start, while City Magick was talking more about magickal consciousness in general.

7. Obviously there is no shortage of books dealing with magic in nature, and “City Magick” covers cities extensively. Can readers adapt the lessons in “City Magick” for life in any of the seemingly zillions of American suburbs?

I think so. In some ways, suburbs are becoming more urban now, aren’t they? The suburbs of my youth are not what they are like now. They are much more congested. So I think the basic idea of attuning the spirit of place, no matter where you are, applies anywhere and anytime.

8. You recently designed spell charms/coins for Deva Designs. Can you tell my readers a little bit about them and where they can find them?

I was approached by the owners of Deva Designs to help co-create a magickal line of products that would serve the Pagan communities and beyond. Deva Designs has a stellar reputation of making magickal products at fair prices. I was always a big fan of their Ted Andrews animal coins and liked their Goddess designs. We designed fifteen spell coin pocket charms, and have release the first five – Love, Healing, Prosperity, Protection and Psychic Power. They are designed with a magickal geometry and symbolism, combining images from several different systems as used in modern Witchcraft. On the back is a spell written to activate the charm. Follow the instructions and recite the spell while holding the charm and then carry it in your pocket.

I sell them on my own website, www.christopherpenczak.com, and local metaphysical retailers can obtain them through Deva Designs whole sale and provide them to the public.

9. I know you’re always insanely busy, do you have any upcoming projects you can share with my readers?

Well, I’m super excited about the Temple of Witchcraft’s new land project. We have obtained a mortgage on a property where the founders of the Temple will be living and paying rent to the Temple. We don’t work on the traditional parsonage model even though we are a nonprofit church in the eyes of the federal government. The first floor of the house and the barn will be Temple facilities, and we are raising funds for a parking lot and barn renovation. Anyone who wants to donate, can visit www.templeofwitchcraft.org. We’ll be putting together a formal donation program for these projects soon, as they really just happened less than two weeks ago, but anyone can donate via our paypal donation button.

I’ve also completed work on two new books to be put out through a publishing company that I’m a co-partner in, Copper Cauldron Publishing. This month’s release is The Feast of the Morrighan, a book about the Celtic Crow Goddess the Morrighan. The second will be out early 2013 is called The Mighty Dead, a book on the enlightened ancestors of the magickal traditions, and most specifically, of Witchcraft.

And lastly I’m helping Laurie Cabot out with her next book, a spell book gathering her years of experiencing running a shop, teaching and pioneering her way as a Witch. It’s great to be reconnected with one of my first and beloved teachers and get such a first hand, direct teachings that we are able to share with the world.

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

Have you tried Nettles for your allergies? They work wonders for me and my other partner, Adam.

I haven’t given that a try. I don’t know, using nature to treat my allergies……I’m suspicious of the enemy……

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.

Mrs. R’s Review of Mrs. B’s Book

This is about a woman who has a very successful blog and with some hard work and a publisher that believed in her had her first book published. And that woman isn’t me. I’m talking about Kris Bradley who created the blog Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, who with Weiser Books published her first book “Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery: Everyday Magic, Spells, and Recipes”. Obviously I despise this woman.

Of course that isn’t true. The moment you start reading “Mrs. B’s” you can tell Bradley is down to earth and probably very approachable. With the black kitties throughout the book I considered trying to set up some sort of pay per view throw down with Llewellyn author Deborah Black whose books all feature similar black “Magic” the cats playing on her covers and throughout her books too. Then I realized if you got these two women together, instead of fighting they would probably immediately start trading cat stories, or perhaps recipes. Either way, Rebecca ain’t getting paid so what’s the point? (Parenthetically, although it’s horrible grammar, don’t you think Microsoft Word should just get over it and acknowledge that “ain’t” is a word that is accurately spelled?)

Enough blither blather (Two words Microsoft Word acknowledges, I might add.) Let’s actually talk about Bradley’s book. This one is truth in advertising, she has created a pretty sweet guide to household witchery. There is tons of information about household foods and spices, different magical blends you might consider for around the home (ranging from protection washes to prosperity oils), a review of deities and household guardians to consider for your home, a room by room magical tour of your home, and more. In fact, despite how much information there is to be found in “Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery”, I almost wonder if it started out longer. Much longer. The book doesn’t feel cut off or abrupt. I just pick up a vibe that if let loose Bradley could have done a book that was twice as long, and for what it’s worth Weiser, I would not have minded at all.

10 Questions Again with Alaric Albertsson

1. Holy crap! Do you realize it’s been over two years since we’ve talked? Seriously. Can you forgive me?

Of course. We should both be grateful that we have such busy, interesting lives. It is good to connect with you and the Magical Buffet again, though.

2. We first talked back in 2009 when “Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan” came out and again in 2010 when you talked about your work with Taren Martin in creating The Martin Rune Deck. Since then there has been a whole other book, “Wyrdworking: The Path of a Saxon Sorcerer”. Can you tell my readers a little about it?

Just as “Travels Through Middle Earth” was my book on Saxon Pagan spirituality, “Wyrdworking” is a book about Anglo-Saxon magic. I had originally intended it to be two books – one discussing the Anglo-Saxon runes, and one discussing other magic modalities – but early on I realized the topics would be more salable if I combined them. Most of the first half of the book explores rune lore. Most of the rune sets sold today are the 24 symbols of the Elder Futhark, which were popularized by authors like Ralph Blum and Edred Thorsson. “Wyrdworking” examines early English runes, known as the Futhorc, which include nine additional symbols.

The second half of the book looks at other magical practices (including incantations, herb magic and divination) as these were practiced in England. We can reconstruct many of these practices from what we know of folk magic and Old English healing and fertility charms. But “Wyrdworking” is not an abstract study of Saxon sorcery; it is a practical guide. The book explains how to use runes both for divination and active magic, how to design effective chants, how to prepare herbal potions and how to choose the tools and supplies you would need for your own magic.

3. I asked this back in ’09, but for those just tuning in you follow the path of a Saxon Pagan. For my readers who may be curious, how does this differ from Celtic or Nordic paths?

The Celtic Britons had some influence on Saxon praxis due to their proximity, but for the most part they were an entirely different culture with their own gods, their own language, and so on. As for the Norse, there is much more similarity. The Saxons were, after all, Germanic people just as the Norse were. The Saxons had a goddess of the spring, Eostre or Eastre, who was unknown to the Norse. Conversely, the Norse had Loki. (I think we have the better deal here.) Saxons also tend to be VERY tribal. Ásatrúar often form kindreds, but it tends to be perceived as more of an option rather than a fundamental aspect of the religion. Obviously there are some solitary Saxon Pagans, but most of us feel there is something incomplete if we cannot worship with an inhíred (tribe or family).

4. Back in 2009 I asked, “What challenges do you see facing the Pagan community? How can the community resolve those issues?”

And you said, “I think the biggest challenge we face – and we have been challenged by this for as long as I’ve been Pagan – is a tendency to believe in One True Path. Face it, most of us are still first-generation Pagans, and part of our baggage is the One Way Syndrome. I believe the central defining quality of Paganism is, or should be, an acceptance that there are many gods and many paths. My way is the best way for me. It may not be the best way for you. Superficially we all seem to agree with this, but on other levels I constantly see people behaving towards others in ugly, judgmental ways.”

Do you still feel that way, or have other issues moved to the forefront?

No, I still think this is our most crippling challenge. Just this past year a woman who has contributed to her branch of Paganism for decades came under heavy fire because of who she would and would not allow into a ritual. I was not there when the incident occurred, and I do not dispute that it could have been handled more diplomatically, but I was very disappointed by the self-righteous zealots who screamed about how “wrong” this woman was for her choice of who she felt comfortable worshiping with.

In my own Saxon e-group, the most common problem that I or one of the other moderators must address is one person telling another that he or she is doing something “wrong”. I do not expect people to agree about everything, but sometimes it gets so negative.

5. On Facebook you occasionally talk about your chickens, and I generally find your chicken status updates so amusing. Can you share with us a little bit about deciding to have chickens, getting started, and now having them?

Oh, chickens are not new for us. We had a small flock when we lived in Missouri. Only then we were in a more rural area, so our flock was larger and always included a rooster. (Who I always named “Stu”, to keep in mind where he would eventually wind up.) Now, in Pennsylvania, we are suburbanites with a tiny flock of three Rhode Island Red hens. If you have never had a fresh egg, you have never really tasted an egg. The factory-farmed eggs you buy at the supermarket are not “fresh” by any rational definition of that word. I missed fresh eggs, and chickens are really so easy to keep. We have a parakeet in the living room, and three hens in a coop in the back garden, and caring for the hens is no more time consuming than caring for the parakeet.

You do want a sturdy coop, because EVERYBODY loves the taste of chicken. Dogs, hawks, opossums and raccoons will all cheerfully devour your birds. Otherwise there is not a lot of work involved, and most people would be surprised to know that a lot of cities allow a family to keep two or three hens. Sometimes there are specific rules, such as how far the coop has to be from other residences, so it is important to find out what the law says in your own city. Roosters are almost always illegal in urban areas. Because, you know, the pastoral sound of a rooster crowing is so much more annoying than ambulance sirens, gun shots and screaming children.

6. Speaking of Facebook, how do you feel about the rise of social media? A lot of authors I know love the access to readers it allows but curse it as a horrible time sink.

I like Facebook. It isn’t a time sink for me, but then I do not feel that I have to respond to everything. If somebody has a reasonable question I answer it succinctly, but I really don’t spend that much time on social networks. Also, a lot of the same questions are asked again and again, and do not take long to answer. I don’t “cut and paste”, but typing a response is very quick if I’ve answered the same question a dozen times before.

I do think we are living in a very exciting era. Not only can people connect more directly with me, but I have been able to connect with authors (like Paul Huson and Louise Huebner) whose books I read 35-40 years ago.

7. You present at and attend a lot of festivals and events, what are some of your favorites?

I’m going to have to say the Heartland Pagan Festival, but I’m extremely biased. Heartland is held every year in – well, in the heartland, of course – in Kansas. In the 90’s I was actively involved with the group that puts on the festival, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

In recent years I have been very impressed with the Earth Warriors Festival held every autumn in Ohio. Earth Warriors tends to have more of a focus than many festivals, which gives it a sense of purpose and direction that is often lacking. And they have the best meal plan ever.

8. Now that spring/summer season is gearing up, are there any events that you already know you’ll be attending and/or speaking at?

I plan to attend Heartland this May, although just as a participant this year. In June I will be speaking at the Steel Valley Pagan Festival in Ohio. It is a single day event, and this is their first year, but the organizer is very enthusiastic. In August I will be speaking at Summerland, an ADF festival held near Cincinnati. Then in September I’ll be speaking again at the Earth Warriors festival, also in Ohio.

It isn’t a festival as such, but I will be one of the speakers at Pittsburgh’s local Pagan Pride Day celebration.

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

I’m currently working on a book about living as a Pagan. “What to do after the ritual is over.” The book is filled with suggested activities to help a person live more fully with an earth-centered spirituality. And, yes, keeping chickens is among those many activities. I don’t want to say much more than this, because I’ve learned that I stop writing whenever I start talking about what I’m writing. It sort of dissipates my energy.

I’m hoping that Llewellyn will pick up this project. If they are not interested I will market it elsewhere, but the people I have worked with have been very respectful of my writing and helpful in promoting my books.

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

How long is it going to be before we do this again? Two years is too long!

I don’t know, I hadn’t meant for it to be two years this time! We should definitely do this when your next book about living as a Pagan is coming out, or when you have some really good chicken stories.

About Alaric Albertsson:
Alaric is the author of “Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan” and “Wyrdworking: The Path of a Saxon Sorcerer”, both published by Llewellyn Worldwide. Alaric first embraced polytheism in the summer of 1971, and has never looked back! Over the past four decades his personal spiritual practice has developed as a synthesis of Anglo-Saxon tradition, country beliefs, herbal studies and rune lore. For Alaric, a reverence for the earth and respect for ancestral and indigenous spirits are fundamental defining qualities of Pagan religion.

During the 70’s, living in the Ozark mountains, Alaric had the opportunity to talk with rural people with traditional customs – moon lore, weather lore, healing superstitions – passed on for generations. During this time he was also influenced by spiritist traditions. He eventually moved to Kansas City, where he served as Vice President and on the Board of Directors for the Heartland Spiritual Alliance during the 1990’s. In 2001, on the day of the winter solstice, Alaric left the Midwest and moved to Pennsylvania, where he currently resides.

Alaric and his partner Scott co-founded the Saxon inhíred Earendel in 2003. Like all inhírdas, Earendel is an extended family and not open to the public, but its members strive to foster a greater public awareness and appreciation of Pagan Saxon traditions in southwestern Pennsylvania. As an author, speaker and drýmann, Alaric himself travels around the United States giving presentations and classes throughout the year.

You can learn more at www.alaricalbertsson.com.