Nov 16, 2015


All through the night, your glorious eyes 
Were gazing down in mine,
And with a full heart's thankful sighs,
I blessed that watch divine
Why did the morning dawn to break
So great, so pure a spell;
And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek,
Where your cool radiance fell?
Oh stars, and dreams, and gentle night;
Oh night and stars, return!
And hide me from the hostile light
That does not warm, but burn;

~ excerpts of "Stars" by Emily Bronte

The sky fell today, and it was a stunning show. When I went to sleep last night, with a smile on my lips, the stars were with me. But shortly after I woke, they all began to fall.

I surprised myself with the intensity of my sorrow. A human can make all sorts of noises, but the sounds we make during sex and grief are to me, the most profound. Laughter is delicious - very little tops it - but there is such depth in a scream. As the heavens crashed down around me, I had almost no words (which for me, is terribly rare). I managed to slip a few out, each one so much less than I wanted to say, but I can't even be sure that they were heard. Instead my voice was reserved for the most beautiful keening sounds. I have never been able to sing a note, but gods I could be a banshee without trying.

I have, in the past few years, begun to marvel daily at life. I seek joy, and I find it nearly everywhere. But life isn't all joy. It is the neighbour-friend who is lingering in an in-between state, somehow still holding on even though she is riddled with cancer. It is the niece who stepped in with both feet to the kind of muck you can't save her from. It is people going out to a concert in Paris, and never coming home again.

That we keep attempting to walk, or drag ourselves along, under a firmament that is collapsing around us, is how we shape our worlds. It's not so easy to just dust yourself off and keep going. We bring our wounds with us. Our heartbreak. Our scars. They can be a heavy weight. But for me, there is no other choice than to keep crawling forward. Fortunately I have friends that don't ask questions, but simply turn up the Fleetwood Mac and pour half a bottle of red wine in a glass for me. They sit me down, and tell me it will all be alright, even though they know I don't believe them, and they tell me ridiculous stories until I am laughing through my tears. I have wise friends, and friends who are great seers, who believe in me, even when I have no faith in myself.

The moon still hangs in the sky tonight and that's something, I suppose. I am not afraid of all those falling stars. There is some strange beauty in their collision - the kind that makes you ache. I still have hope, although what that is good for, I can't be sure. More than hope, more than even the thought of the coming spring and the new life that might overtake the wildfire-scorched parts of me, I have love. There is a wild, fathomless love in me that seems to rise up, even when I feel like I'm drowning. That is what I hold on to - even when it hurts - all of that foolish love.

I hope you and yours are safe and warm tonight. I hope your friends treat you half as well as mine treat me. I hope you find love, have love, remember love. Find something to hold on to. The sky may not be finished falling yet, but keep your eyes on the moon and don't stop moving, breathing, loving. Don't stop.

Two small notes:

- There is, in fact, a falling star situation happening in the heavens, if you are interested. The Leonids will peak on November 17th and 18th for your viewing pleasure. Read more here.

- I would like to ask, so kindly, that if you feel you would like to leave a comment on this post, please don't send condolences. I don't know that I particularly deserve them, and that is not why I offered this up today. I know that not everyone has a group of friends like mine, or is able to find some soul-deep love to tap into to keep going. I would be so much more grateful for any sharing you might want to do in regards to how you find your way through those times when the sky falls. Thank you for understanding.

*Photographs are courtesy of creative commons and linked back to source

Oct 31, 2015

The Great October Book Giveaway - Divination

The folks taking home the card decks are:

The Green Witch Tarot - Chad

The Earthbound Oracle - Hexe

The Fantod Pack - Rob Phoenix

Thanks again, wonderful folks, for playing along all October. I'm missing that magical month already!


 The It has somehow all come down to this - the last day of October, and the last bit of frivolity here in this month of giveaways. I have had several people ask me why I do this - why I gather books and oddities throughout the year from authors I meet or enjoy, or find something I fancy and buy an extra one for a stranger. It pleases me. It's as simple as that, really.

This blog has been a safe place for my thoughts and my heart for some time now (even during a year like this one when I only get by once or twice a month to post something). Picking up these books (and this year in particular, some extra fun items) is my way of keeping the people who stop by here in my thoughts all year long. It's a bit like a never-ending game of trick or treat for me.

It is also important to mention that it couldn't be done - not at the number of giveaways of this year and last - without the generosity of various authors, publishers, and friends. Some of the lovely people I have featured have gifted me either free books or a reduced rate on purchasing directly from them. I have had folks offer to ship their work to the winners directly, so I didn't have the extra postage fees, and my wonderful friend Aidan Wachter donated an extraordinary gift of his talent.

What you may not know is that I work what essentially amounts to two jobs in October - this year even more than previous years, and I am long hours at the office, while still trying to put my gardens to bed and find some small pleasures in this treasured month. I couldn't run this yearly party without the kind folks who help with these giveaways and those who share these posts on social media and beyond. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now for the last three giveaways - which are not books, but a bit of divinatory fun I picked up for you.

First up, The Green Witch Tarot from Ann Moura:

I don't own this deck, so can't speak for it, but I have heard whispers that it is quite charming. It is a new release - it has only been out two months, I believe - and is packaged nicely in a set, a book accompanying the cards.

This next oracle deck, I own and love. It comes with cards only, no little white book, but the images are luscious and I have not once thought a book would improve the insight I gain while reading with it. I use this for reading for myself only - it feels very private and special.

The Earthbound Oracle, from A. L. Swartz: (click through to her shop page to view these gorgeous cards - I don't feel comfortable swiping the photos of her artwork and posting them here).

The last deck is for those of you who can appreciate a spectral hippopotamus, or an epileptic bicycle. Edward Gorey's dark, delightful, and strange "Fantod Pack" tarot deck is not quite a tarot deck at all. But then, in Gorey's world, nothing is ever quite what it seems. When I saw this perfect oddity, I grabbed one for a friend and one for you, and then upon seeing them sit on my bookshelf over the last couple months, I gave in and ordered one for myself. You can never have too many delightfully odd things in your life.

There is a great article about this deck here, and many more pictures of the cards.

If you would like to have one of these three decks show up in your trick-or-treat bag, leave a comment below. You may tell me which deck you would prefer, and if possible I will match winners to their choices.

We have a busy weekend ahead of us - some of you are already drifting out into this Halloween night, in search of mischief or candy - so I will leave this last giveaway open until Tuesday, November 3rd at 6pm Pacific.

Thank you again for playing along with me all month!

You can find the rules and legal bits here.

All photos are copyright their respective authors/creators and linked back. They are used only to showcase the items to be given away.

Oct 29, 2015

The Great October Book Giveaway - Byron Ballard

Byron's books are going home with:

KellyM and Sam Saye - congratulations!


When I read our next author's first book "Staubs and Ditchwater: A Friendly and Useful Introduction to Hillfolks' Hoodoo" I felt like I was sitting around a table with my grandmother and aunts, a large pot of tea making the rounds, while they talked about the business of keeping house, and keeping other folks noses out of your business. My grandmother was not from the Appalachians however, she was a British import who could grow spectacular roses with little effort, brew a pot of tea that would fix anything from a headache to heartbreak, and use a potato to dislodge the stinger of a bee that was stuck in your foot. She had a small witch on a broom hanging in her little yellow kitchen, and gods help you if you lifted a lid on one of her pots while they were bubbling on the stove (she knew if you did too - whether she was in the room or not).

Byron Ballard writes in such a way that makes me miss my grandmother with even more than the usual ache. She reminds me of a time when women were in command of their kitchens and gardens and every item had several purposes. A time when the person who kept the home, kept it peaceful and safe with whatever skill and items they had on hand. That time does not have to be "back then" - it can be now, with a little know-how.

Byron has generously offered up two signed copies of her new book "Asfidity & Mad-Stones: A Further Ramble Through Hillfolks' Hoodoo"

I had the pleasure of taking a sneak peak at this book and it is a treat!

"Grab your work-basket and a good, sharp blade, and come along in to the back lots, the meadows, the hills. Byron shows us the folkways of her beloved Appalachian homeland, and shares practical wisdom and workings that she has learned and adapted over a lifetime of practice.

Ms. Ballard tells of ancestors and ghosts, folk-sayings and omens. She offers up a list of herbal helpers, discusses fundamental needs, and shares all manner of works - from blessings to banes. All while weaving an enchanting picture of the land and the spirit of place that holds her heart. 

This is good, get-dirt-under-your-nails craft. By the time you are finished reading this charming book, you should have an impressive toolkit of local plants, dirt, stones, and waters, and a bit of a sore back. 

Dig in deep to this gem, and be sure to carry a buckeye in your pocket, encourage plantain in your yard, mind your dishwater, and pay attention to the moon."

There are two copies of Asfidity & Mad-Stones up for grabs. I seem to be running out of October, so you will only have until Friday at 11pm Pacific to leave a comment here. I will be out in a haunted cornfield that evening, so I'll draw the names when I stumble home, cold and scared silly.

Here are the rules and legal bits.

Photographs copyright Byron Ballard. Quoted text my own.

Oct 24, 2015

The Great October Book Giveaway - Sarah Anne Lawless

Wow - you all love you some Sarah Anne Lawless! Do swing by her shop and blog, she has a new look happening over there and some lovely new products in the works!

The issue of Clavicula Nox is going home with Magaly Guerrero.

The flying ointment will be whisking off to Jen Lawrence.

Swing by tomorrow when more magical books appear!


I am a bit late posting this next giveaway today, because I spent a good portion of the late morning and early afternoon up in the hills, wandering through the now naked birch and tamarack trees, across drifts of yellow needles and leaves, and through pine and fir forests that made me swoon.  I know that our next author/artist would approve of how I spent that portion of my day, so I am not too worried that I am finally sitting down to post the next giveaway for your wicked October pleasure.

Sarah Anne Lawless is an author, artist, folk herbalist and witch, who spends her days creating with plant, bone, ink, and whatever she can get her magical hands on. In between chasing around her delightful pixie of a son, she is a wildcrafter, a poison-plant maven, and works with the land spirits where she resides. She weaves spellbinding posts on her blog and her wonderful articles appear in various publications far and wide.

I am offering up two very special gems from Sarah:

The sold-out, visually stunning issue of Ixaxaar's Clavicula Nox: Magic & Mayhem which holds within its pages, Sarah's article "Intoxication, Seership, and the Poison Path" which she signed for you.

From Ixaxaar:

"Honouring the Covenant to the forbidden teachings of Traditional-Diabolism & Sorcery.
Included in this witchcraft issue: The Commemoration of Lord Qayin by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, The Curse of the Burning Grave by Frater Ben Nachash, The Way of the Night by Asenath Mason, West Country Curse-Magic by Gemma Gary, Djävulspakt- Infernal Pacts in traditional Swedish Witchcraft by C.A. Nordblom, Intoxication, Seership, and the Poison Path by Sarah Lawless, Wyrd by G.
Professionally printed, illustrated magazine, thick brown covers, perfect binding, 60 pages."

And one of Sarah's incredible flying ointments - Saturn: belladonna, henbane, poplar buds, monkshood, yew. I have happily partaken in a few bewitched balms from Sarah, and love them. 

You can find Sarah's shop here, and read up on her flying ointments here.

Please feel free to leave a comment telling me which item you prefer - if I can match winners to items, I will. I will draw two names on Tuesday, October 27th at 6pm Pacific and update this post with the winner's names.

You can read all the rules and legal bits here.

The photograph of the Saturn flying ointment is used with permission, and copyright Sarah Anne Lawless.

Oct 21, 2015

The Great October Book Giveaway - Judika Illes

The Encyclopedia of Spirits is going home with: William Jones

Magic When You Need It is going home with: Stephanie Clayton


Another wicked duo will be up for grabs tomorrow...


I find it a rare thing to hear an author spoken well of across varying groups of practitioners. Often, I hear a book or a writer mentioned, and there is someone else in the room who immediately starts rolling their eyes, or wants to tell you why that particular author is not worth your time. I can honestly say that I've never heard anyone speak ill of our next author.

Perhaps the amount of research and information she pours into her books, is the reason there is a wide reaching appreciation of her work, or it may simply be that others have discovered what I have - she is a truly lovely human being who adores this magical world, and wants to share it with others.

I am pleased to be sharing two of Judika Illes' books with you:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demon, Ghosts, Gods and Goddesses

"...a comprehensive and entertaining A to Z of spirits from around this world and the next. The spirits in this encyclopedia represent every inhabited continent, deriving from many cultures, eras, and spiritual traditions. Some, like the goddesses Kwan Yin and Ma Zu, currently possess millions of devotees while others are barely remembered. Within this book, you’ll find individual spirits of varying degrees of power as well as type (genres) of spirits from all over Earth."

Magic When You Need It

"Magic When You Need It serves as your magical emergency kit. This simple to read, easy to use, mini-grimoire contains 150 tried and true spells to eliminate and remedy the emergencies you already have as well as spells to prevent them."

If you would like to add one of Judika's books to your library, please leave a comment below before Friday, October 23rd at 6pm Pacific. Feel free to let me know which book strikes your fancy!

Rules and legal bits are here.

All photos and quoted text are copyright Judika Illes and used only to promote these books for this particular giveaway.

Oct 17, 2015

Death Rites and Remembrances: My Grandfather's Music

The delightful Magaly Guerrero hosts a blog party each October under the "Witches in Fiction" banner. Each year she chooses a new haunting theme, and this year the idea surrounds celebrating or marking the memory of loved ones that no longer walk with us in the flesh.

I have a small story to share, if you want to pull up a chair and sit a while. It won't take long, but there is a campfire here, and I'll pass you a cup of hot chocolate if it pleases you. The neighbour brought fresh apples from his trees this week, and I made tarts. Help yourself.

My grandfather (top right) stands with his siblings and parents outside the castle that his father built for his mother upon coming to Canada. The "castle" was a grand house sporting a roof with faux turrets. More impressive than the house, were the grounds my great-grandmother kept. Secret garden rooms and hidden sculptures were found all over her yard, and I spent long days getting lost out there among the plants and wildlife, and protesting every call from my mother to return inside.

My grandfather played the spoons. He played the piano too, and when his fingers could no longer stretch out and press down on the keys, he took up the guitar because he was able to hold the rudimentary tool he created to strum the strings.  He played the harmonica at times. Not well, but no seemed to mind.

He loved to sing. He was part of a gentleman's choir for years, and when he was 90 he began performing solo in retirement and nursing homes to entertain "the old folks." His eyes and memory started to fade a bit (but only slightly) and so I spent some time tracking down a list of old songs he gave me, and I created a large-print song book for him to carry around so he might have a bit of backup if his mind lost a word or two of a favourite tune.

Few of his children inherited the musical gene, and even fewer still of his grandchildren. Many of us have wished that we carried even a small portion of his talent in us.

I don't know that I have a memory of my grandfather that doesn't include hearing him sing, or recite a funny poem or lyrics, or seeing him take up any item within his reach and try to make music appear from it.

I saw my grandfather, my father's father, the day before he died. He was 99, and only a few short months away from his 100th birthday. We had planned a big bash for him, as well as a family reunion, and he was very excited. But his body was failing. He was tired. My cousin and I sat with him that day, and he told us stories and sang for us, and I knew by his breath and manner that he was moving away from us. I called the family that night, aunts and cousins, and told them to come.

I didn't return the next day. I had my quiet moment with him, and told him the things I wanted to say, and thanked him, and kissed him, and knew we wouldn't meet again while I was in this body. I can't remember what I did the next day, but I received messages from family telling me how glad they were to have rushed to his side. He was delighted that day - his tiny apartment was brimming with people who had come to sit by his side and tell him stories and sing with him. My cousin told me that he kept asking "is everyone here for me?"

The man that wandered through his life with music on his lips and in his hands, sang to his family on the day he died. As people went home he grew quiet, and at last, with my aunt by his side, he drifted on the music he had given us, into the next world.

When it comes to making music, there is almost no talent in me. I tried out choir and band in high school, but my voice isn't much, and I grew frustrated with reading sheet music. The few instruments I tried I gave up on because my short fingers wouldn't cooperate with stretching out to hit a chord or a key. My hands are better suited as spades for the earth, than for traveling nimbly down a piano. Recently though, I picked up a pair of spoons. I was putting away the dishes, and I found myself wedging them between my fingers and trying to rattle them the way my grandfather did. It turns out that my chubby fingers are good for something - they held those spoons perfectly.

Perhaps there is a bit of his music in me after all.

The Great October Talisman Giveaway - Aidan Wachter

The "Wolf Moon" talisman will be going home with...

Kashmira 17

Congratulations, lucky duck!


The month is somehow half over already, and I have not gotten up to my usual amount of mischief. I still have some ideas up my sleeve, and there are more forest journeys to take, and moons to howl under. In the meantime I thought I'd shake up this bookish month with an extra special treat. My brilliantly talented friend Aidan Wachter has offered up a wicked talisman for your October pleasure.

This beauty, titled "Wolf Moon" is Aidan's nod to Circe:

I have several of Aidan's charms, and each one is wildly special to me. His craftsmanship is spectacular. As pretty as his photos are, there is nothing quite like seeing his work in your hands, and around your neck.

You can order any of his designs for yourself, here, or you can contact him directly about custom work. You might also want to leave a comment on this post, because on Tuesday, October 20th at 6pm Pacific, I will be giving this little bit of lunar wolfishness away.

The contest rules and legal bits are here

The photograph is copyright and property of Aidan Wachter and used only to show his offering to this giveaway.