Oct 30, 2017

The Great October Giveaway - Sabbat Sign

Thank you again for joining me this year, it was a delicious amount of fun for me! I did receive all your email entries and just about gave myself carpal tunnel by writing out all your names (twice, at times). Thank you for making me smile and for digging the books and goodies and folks I've featured this year. Do click through all the photos and links, and track these authors and artists down, too.

My internet dropped out yesterday during our first snowstorm of the season, so I'm a bit late in posting this, but...the lucky soul taking home Aidan's beautiful work is:

Jennifer Larochelle

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You know it is coming. Every year. The last day of October. The haunt of all haunts. The motherlode of candy. The scent of scorched pumpkin, spent firecrackers, and the bonfire smoke on the wind. The laughter and the screams of all the little monsters running amok. And all that before you engage in your own festivities. Samhain reigns from dusk on the 31st until sunset on November 1st, and whether you observe the sabbat or simply frolic with Halloween glee, the finale of October is definitely something to celebrate.

To wind up our October fun here at Rue and Hyssop, I've saved the witch's best accessory for last. A striking talisman, Sabbat Sign, created by the marvelous Aidan Wachter. If you don't know Aidan yet, you need to. A superior precious-metal artist, author of Six Ways (soon-to-be-released from Red Temple Press), and just a sincerely awesome person, Aidan has generously offered up one of his sigils to a very lucky trick-or-treater.

I'll let his own words speak for this stunning piece:
The Sabbat Sign came about while working on an altar piece (which also produced the Descent piece). While they contain strong Saturnal and Neptunian aspects, the story they tell is of those who engage in spirit flight, like witches flying to the Sabbat. They also have resonance with Lucifer and the Watchers. They come in two forms, ascending and descending. This is the ascending or upright form...


These next three days are alive with magic and remembrances. Go out into the world and make merry (or make mischief) on your Halloween, Samhain, and All Saint's Day, but have your name in the hat here by All Soul's Day (November 2nd) at 8 pm Pacific time in order to have a chance at gathering up this lovely silver sigil.

Once again, your comment counts as your entry. If the comment form isn't working out for you, drop your name in the hat by using the "contact me" button up top. If you'd like a second chance at this gorgeous piece, please share Aidan's shop, or link to one of his pieces that catches your eye, at your favourite social media site and then stop back here and let me know and I'll put your name in the hat again.

Thank you so much for joining me this year - it's so fun for me to see familiar names flying by each October, and extra lovely to meet new folks. Immense thanks to the wonderful authors and artists that lent a hand this month in making this another enchanting Great October Book (and cards, and amazing art) Giveaway. I could never pull this off without you!

Happy Halloween, and a bewitching Samhain to you!


Legal Bits:

* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America,  who are 18 years of age or older. This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law.  Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.

*  Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada).  The skill testing question will be in a form similar to: 1 + 2 - 1 =

*  This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.

*  This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.

* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.

I have chosen all the books/cards featured this month myself.  I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone.  This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop

Oct 27, 2017

The Great October Book Giveaway - A Trio of Tarot

The decks will be haunting the halls of the following folks:

Halloween Tarot: Rebecca
The Wild Unknown: Liz D
Santa Muerte Tarot: Johanna
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As this most magic of months inches toward a spirit-fueled (or spirits-fueled, if you partake, or candy-inundated, if you trick-or-treat) climax, I thought I'd pass along something to assist with your Samhain divinations. You may prefer to peel an apple in one long piece, and toss the peel over your shoulder to spy the initial of your love. Or perhaps you'd rather place chestnuts or apple seeds in a fire to see if you and your crush are meant to be together. I am hoping that you've grabbed yourself a deck of playing cards to experiment with, but if you are still looking for the predictive tool that feels just-right to you, I might have something to tickle your fortune-telling bone.

My very first tarot deck was The Halloween Tarot by Kipling West. It's the one I still go back to time and again, and is so well-loved that I've always got a new deck on standby. All the readers I knew back when I was just starting out were reading the Rider-Waite-Smith or the Thoth deck (which I think is fabulous too) but I was looking for something I could really connect with. I'm a Halloween girl at heart, a lover of fairy tales and monster stories, black cats and pumpkins, and any kind of ghostly yarn, so when I saw West's illustrations they made my heart leap. It is a Rider-Waite based system, with the suits swapped out for more seasonal fare. Pentacles are pumpkins, swords are bats, cups are ghosts, and wands are imps. Charming and whimsical, but still brimming with the symbolism of the RW and wild fun to read with. (I've learned that it is even a favourite deck of the fabulous witch and reader, Judika Illes.)


Originally self-published in 2012 by creator Kim Krans, The Wild Unknown Tarot was a furious success and was eventually picked up by publisher HarperElixir in 2016. One of the bestselling self-published (at the time) decks on the market The Wild Unknown struck a chord with tarot fans with its stark, nature-based illustrations in black and white with bright punches of colour. (Click through to The Wild Unknown site to see Kim's art.)
The last deck I have to share is a brand new release this month. Santa Muerte Tarot, by Fabio Listrani, produced by Lo Scarabeo and published by Llewellyn has been released just in time to lay out your spread for The Day of the Dead. I haven't even opened my deck yet - it's that fresh!


I have one copy of each of these decks to pass out. In the case of The Halloween Tarot and The Wild Unknown, these are tarot sets that include good-sized guidebooks. We are running out of days in October, so you only have until 8 pm Pacific on October 30th to get your name into the hat!

As always, your comment is your entry and if you are the sort who likes to get an extra entry in you can always share this post around to your favourite social media haunt and I'll add your name a second time. Feel free to send along an entry via the "contact me" button up top if you are a bit shy or if the comment form is being finicky.



Legal Bits:

* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America,  who are 18 years of age or older. This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law.  Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.

*  Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada).  The skill testing question will be in a form similar to: 1 + 2 - 1 =

*  This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.

*  This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.

* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.

I have chosen all the books/cards featured this month myself.  I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone.  This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop

Oct 22, 2017

The Great October Book Giveaway - It's All About The Love

The following folks are taking home books:

Embracing Willendorf: Rhi and Danni

Glamour Magic: James and Joe

Love Magic: Dre and John

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I had some different words planned in order to introduce this next giveaway, but then a week ago the #metoo hashtag bloomed all over social media. It wasn't the way I had ever hoped to connect with other women. It's not the sort of thing I wish I had in common with anyone. For a great number of years I had a difficult time looking in the mirror. I didn't love myself. I didn't believe I deserved love. I wasn't entirely sure that I was worthy of much of anything. I was wrong. I had believed people that I shouldn't have trusted. I bought into a religious system that told me that I was fundamentally flawed. And I rated my value based on the size of my jeans and whether or not I looked like the girls in the magazines I was reading.

I'm happy to say that most days I don't struggle with my worth anymore. My scars still make me flinch from time to time, but they are a part of me - the maps of my life and experiences. I have such a soft-yet-fierce love for myself for making it this far when there were so many times I wasn't sure I could keep going. I learned to trust my own heart. My own desires. And the deep magic of this strange world - magic that I saw proof of, even in my darkest hours.

For me, it is all about where love lives. First, inside me and for me. Then, as it blossoms and flows out to those around me - friends, family, lovers - and then outward still, to my land base and communities and the world at large. These three books I picked for my October giveaways came to mind a few months ago, long before I was reminded this past week how important self-love is. I'm pleased how perfectly they fit, right at this time.

The first book is by a witch close to my heart. A field guide to cultivating health and well-being, told from a sassy, earth-centered perspective, H. Byron Ballard's Embracing Willendorf: A Witch's Way of Loving Your Body to Health & Fitness (published by Skyebridge Publishing) is a wonderful take on loving yourself and working toward being your most vibrant incarnation.

A heartwarming and giggle-worthy memoir, and a good helping of practical advice on living your own robust life, this book is a truly lovely read. You can find more about Byron (and her blog) at My Village Witch.



The second book up for grabs has just what you need to get your glow on and your confidence working for you (even if you aren't sure you have any). Deborah Castellano's Glamour Magic, published by Llewellyn, is a gorgeous take on the often under-looked magical arte of the glamour (both employing this work to achieve/attract what you want, and to bump up your own morale and spirit).

I've been subscribed to Deborah's fabulous blog, Charmed, I'm Sure, for some time now and I'm mad about her writing style and unapologetic honesty. This book serves up her bold ideas with a side of history and pop culture references that will be sure to make you grin and want to get to work!


Our third book is a charming tome brimming with magic. Lilith Dorsey's Love Magic, published by Weiser Books starts off its very first chapter with "Happiness and Self Love Spells," and though it does offer ideas to capture the attention and affection of a potential mate, I am delighted by the chapters that speak to the myriad ways love is expressed. There are fertility rites and spells to bless your marriage, as well as works that center on honoring your relationship with family, friends, animal companions, and the wider world. This is a spellbook for those who generally shy away from love magic!

You can find more of Lilith's writing on her blog, Voodoo Universe at Patheos.


I have two copies of each of these love-filled books to give away. Your comment counts as your entry. If you are of the shy sort (or Blogger comments are not playing nicely) please feel free to enter your name via the "contact me" button up top. If you want a second chance at the goods, you are welcome to share this post on your fave social media haunt or share some love for Deborah, Byron, or Lilith, and circle back to let me know. I'll add your name to the hat a second time. Please have all entries in by 8 pm on Friday, October 27th.

An email address with your entry is super-helpful (especially if your comment doesn't link back to a site or profile that gives me a way to contact you). You can let me know which book floats your boat if you like, and I'll try to match up books with wishes as much as possible. All prizes generally go out within a week of receiving the winner's addresses (if I don't get too far down the October rabbit hole).

PS - for those that aren't podcast fans and didn't catch the reference, "It's All About The Love" is a blatant rip-off/nod/blown-kiss to The Wigglian Way, a Canadian witchy podcast hosted by the wonderful duo, Mojo and Sparrow.


Legal Bits:

* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America,  who are 18 years of age or older. This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law.  Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.

*  Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada).  The skill testing question will be in a form similar to: 1 + 2 - 1 =

*  This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.

*  This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.

* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.

I have chosen all the books/cards featured this month myself.  I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone.  This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop

Oct 16, 2017

The Great October Book Giveaway - The Witch's Cauldron


*The two books are flying off to Stephanie Clayton and Cathi!*

There is little that is more perfect company on an autumn evening than a good book. Except perhaps a flicker of flame, or wisps of burning incense, or even a warm slice of cornbread straight from your favourite cast iron cookware. This next giveaway combines the delight of a sweet read, and fresh inspiration to work magic with one of the witch's most captivating tools - the cauldron. Whether you prefer to burn petitions in it, cense your sacred space with billows of herb-scented smoke, or cook something bone-warming on a cool October eve, this book will encourage you to attempt new alchemy and creativity with your cauldron.

Part of Lewellyn's "Witch's Tools" series, The Witch's Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels is a spellbinding look at this classic and beloved vessel. Written with charm and wisdom by Laura Tempest Zakroff, dancer, artist, witch, and author, this engaging tome is sure to make you take a second look at the cauldron tucked into the back of your altar. History and lore, recipes and spellwork, and Laura's own system detailing nine uses of the cauldron, are just a taste of the many paths she (and a few guest authors) lead us down.

From the publisher:
The Witch’s Cauldron shows you the ins and outs of one of the most iconic tools in Witchcraft. Learn about the cauldron’s role in lore and mythology, its development through the ages, and old-world witchery. Discover how to choose, personalize, and care for your cauldron, and find unconventional ones already in your home. This entertaining book also features advice and spells from well-known writers, helping you delve into the endless possibilities for using a cauldron in your practice.

This book is a bewitching read and I've got two copies to give away - signed by the lovely author, no less! As always, your comment is your entry. If you'd like to share this post, or share some love around for Tempest, then pop back and let me know and I'll add your name to the hat again. I'll be drawing for these books on October 21st at 8pm Pacific. Please ensure that there is some way for me to contact you if you win. If you are of the more private sort or the comments aren't playing nice with you, you can toss an entry in via the "contact me" button up top. (Though I haven't had the time to reply to each message that comes in, you should know that I have been getting everyone's entries!)

Please find the enchanting Laura Tempest Zakroff here:

Website
Her blog on Patheos, A Modern Traditional Witch
Her blog on Witches & Pagans, Fine Art Witchery
Her interview with Chris and Tara of Down at the Crossroads


Legal Bits:

* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America,  who are 18 years of age or older. This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law.  Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.

*  Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada).  The skill testing question will be in a form similar to: 1 + 2 - 1 =

*  This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.

*  This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.

* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.

I have chosen all the books/cards featured this month myself.  I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone.  This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop

Oct 12, 2017

The Great October Fetch Giveaway

Thank you all for playing along, this round! Mr. John D. Jackalope is going home with:

Sparkless!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
October is known for entertaining marauding creatures, dressed sharply (or scantily) in the guise of their favourite mythical beings and otherworldly monsters. As the daylight hours fade and the earth gives up its last fiery show, this month feels inspiring for letting your most fetching fantasies come to life. In this next round of trick-or-treat, I have the perfect beast to help you navigate through this month of magic, and beyond. Is he a fetch, a cryptid, a poppet, a spirit house, or simply a bewitching guide on how to look good while finding your way through these October eves? The winner will get to decide.


In the words of his enchanting creator, Polly Lind:
"Introducing Mr John D. Jackalope, Star Path Navigator, Guide and Fetch extraordinaire.  He is a magician with the extraordinary ability to interpret and navigate the universal truths of both the world and the spirit realm. With his bag of ancient, star charts, spirits maps and bottles of strange substances, Mr Joh D works with the planetary pathways, stars and magic to take you deeper into the universal realm of spirits and deities.

Mr John D, is a fetch from the mythical Jackalope family. The Jackalope family are star navigators, and sky gazers.  They have the magical abilities to travel not just the spirit pathways of this world but can also travel the spirit pathways of the universe.  It is said that, in times gone by, the Jackalopes once served the Queen of England. "


Polly is an exceptional fabric artist who has cultivated her talent through many years of practice. She is as magical as she is accomplished in her art, and practices her own spirit-led work alongside her fascinations of needle and thread. I spotted her gorgeous art panels a few years ago which are highly sought after, but I was so curious about what inspired her to form these charming figures.
"Fetches Fairies and Poppets came into being because I wanted to create magical creatures of folklore and urban myth, and figures that could house their spirits.  And that they could become guardians and guides, while also being beautiful pieces of artwork, with exquisite magical detail, such as maps, books and the like.  I love creating these wee Fetches, Faeries and Poppets and sending them on their journeys around the world."


Mr. John D Jackalope is 56cm (approx 22 inches) from feet to handsome head, plus approx 10cm (4 inches) of antlers, and comes with his own satchel packed with materia magica. If you'd like to get your hands on him, simply leave a comment below or add your name to the hat via the "contact me" button up top. If you want to get your name in the draw a second time, just share the love of Polly's beautiful work in some fashion and let me know so I can add you again. I'll draw the name of his new housemate on Monday, October 16th at 8pm Pacific.

Please do visit Polly in all her assorted spots around the interwebs!




Legal Bits:

* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America,  who are 18 years of age or older. This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law.  Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.

*  Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada).  The skill testing question will be in a form similar to: 1 + 2 - 1 =

*  This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.

*  This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.

* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.

I have chosen all the books/cards featured this month myself.  I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone.  This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop

Oct 6, 2017

The Great October Book Giveaway - Cards and Cartomancy

The following folks are taking home cartomancy prize-packages:

lillie8302 - 54 Devils and the Sleepy Hollow cards
Tessa - 54 Devils and the Midnight Calaveras cards
dampviolets - Kat - Fortune Telling Using Playing Cards and the Bone Riders deck


Tonight the clouds are racing across the moon, and the wind is just substantial enough to send a ghostly kiss along the back of your neck. It is a delightful night for divination. After all, who doesn't want to know what the deeper recesses of October will offer up?

What will help you tell your tales then? What tools will you unwrap from silk cloth to answer your questions? You could throw the bones, or your own magpie collection of charms and oddities. You could scry into flame or water or black bowl. You might shuffle the Tarot. Or...you could take out that innocuous deck of playing cards you rarely use anymore, and try an age-old system of prophesying with pips and royals.


On a recent trip, while languishing in an airport during an extra-long layover, I realized that I had forgotten to pack the tarot deck I wanted to bring with me. I found a deck of playing cards in one of the terminal's shops and sat down to whip up a quick divination system that I knew I could remember and work with. Much of the system I mashed together in that airport was inspired by the work of Cory Thomas Hutcheson of New World Witchery fame. His wonderful book 54 Devils: The Art and Folklore of Fortune-Telling with Playing Cards, is a concise and fascinating look at his own system of reading with the cards. He offers a glimpse at some intriguing folklore, as well as illustrating a very clever way of formulating a story with your cards by applying fairy tales. I gave a few copies of this book away when it was first published in 2013, and since it has proven itself so wildly useful to me I wanted to share it with you again.


And just to toss some variety into the cauldron, a second cartomancy book focusing on making use of your dusty old poker deck, is also up for grabs. Fortune Telling Using Playing Cards, by the late Jonathan Dee, an astrologer and clairvoyant, adds astrological associations and symbolism to the meanings of the cards. I've got two copies of 54 Devils to pass along, and one copy of this lovely guide.


 You don't think I'd leave you without cards to use, did you? Forget your shuffled-to-oblivion bridge deck or your gin rummy cards that might actually have a bit too much gin or rum spilled on them. Let's get you started with a crisp, new package of cards with a bit of October flair.

I have two incredibly fun, spectral decks from Art of Play to pass along (and both are sold out on their site now, unsurprisingly*). The Bone Riders deck and the Sleepy Hollow cards are up for grabs, and I have one pack of Midnight Calaveras playing cards from Dead on Paper for someone very fortunate. Any one of these decks are sure to add some Halloween spirit to your readings.




Each one of the three winners in this giveaway will receive one of the above books and one deck of cards. The three names will be drawn on October 11th at 8 pm Pacific time. The winners will be notified by email and their names will be added to the top of the post, and then we will carry right along with the next bit of mischief.

Your comment here counts as your entry. If you'd like to share this giveaway on your favourite social media platform or any number of other ways (blog, sky-writing, email-spam (don't do that)) feel free to swing back around and let me know and I'll toss your name into the witch's hat a second time. There are a few reasons the comments form may not work for you (it does require some vague form of verification so I don't get gremlins) so if you have difficulty or are terribly shy, then just pop me a note via the "make contact" link at the top and I'll add you in. Please make sure there is an email address attached to your entry or linked to your comment in some way so I can be in touch if I draw your name.

*Decks are restocked at Art of Play

Top photo is my own. All other photographs are linked back to their source and are property of and copyright to those sources and only employed here to display their product.

Legal Bits:

* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America,  who are 18 years of age or older. This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law.  Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.

*  Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada).  The skill testing question will be in a form similar to: 1 + 2 - 1 =

*  This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.

*  This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.

* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.

I have chosen all the books/cards featured this month myself.  I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone.  This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop

Oct 1, 2017

The Great October Book Giveaway - Haunting Herbals


**The following folks are taking home books:

Melody - Alchemy of Herbs
Jessica - The Witching Herbs
Aidan - Under the Witching Tree


The time has come again, good friends, to gather up your cup of cocoa (spiked or not, 'tis your choice) and join me by the fire for some autumn cheer. Seven years ago this month, I passed along two books to kind folks who had been stopping by this blog to read my words and now, after eight years of blogging, I am sitting here staring at a glorious stack of tomes and other treats to hand out as October blossoms and then deepens into the ambrosial (and devilish) days we love so well.

This yearly event is my way of offering to those who have come by my blog, a warm hug (or a remarkably good cup of coffee if you aren't a hug-person) and a thank you for keeping me company on this delightfully strange blogging adventure. Whether we bump into each other here, somewhere on social media, or out in the physical world, I think the world is infinitely cooler with you in it, and my little corner of it wouldn't be the same without you.

Shall we get up to some mischief now?

The first grouping of books tells of my mad love for plants. Being a gardener, a witch, a backyard herbalist, and a wild-woods-wandering soul, I can't get enough of beautiful herbals and informative field guides. These three books will give you information on growing and working with magical plants, employing herbs for health and well-being, and delving into the enchanting world of trees and their deep magic.


Rosalee De La Forêt, a wonderful herbalist and a prolific writer on the Herb Mentor site, has put together a gorgeously curated tome of useful and accessible herbs and spices that would be a beautiful addition to every kitchen or apothecary. Chock full of recipes, information on medicinal properties and the energetics of herbs, not to mention some outstanding photography, Alchemy of Herbs has been been a close companion for me this year and a book I highly recommend.


Harold Roth, gardener, artist, and magician behind the venerable Alchemy Works, has put together a devil's dozen of charmed plants that he feels are indispensable to the witch. (I'm rather partial to the chapters on rue and hyssop, myself.) His book, "The Witching Herbs: 13 Essential Plants and Herbs for Your Magical Garden," offers growing tips, recipes, the history and folklore surrounding each plant, and how you might want to employ the plants magically. A truly fascinating look at an armful of charming plants, which would be just as at home on your garden bench as your magical bookshelf. I love Harold's take on these plants and know you'll enjoy this book immensely.


To round out this bewitching trio, I have a copy of Corinne Boyer's "Under the Witching Tree" to pass along to a very fortunate person. Corinne is a folk herbalist, wild-crafter, teacher, writer, researcher, and medicine maker, whose life of working with plants has offered her a unique voice in the realm of herb-lore and historical research. This wonderful book speaks to the traditionally used medicinal applications of trees, as well as the magical benefits they offer. A captivating read for any time of year, but even more so as the trees around us blush with autumn delight.

I have one copy of each of these three books to give out. *Edited to add* You are free to let me know which book tickles your fancy. I can't guarantee you'll get your wish, but I try to match book with folks as much as possible. This first giveaway will be drawn on October 6th, no later than 8 pm Pacific

The important-but-tedious bits:

We are running simple game again this year - your comment counts as your entry. However, if you feel moved to share this around  (either a particular giveaway or if you just send folks my way) you can leave another comment letting me know you shared some October love, and I'll toss your name in the hat a second time.

On the evening of the draw, the winners will be notified via email and their names placed at the top of this post and the next handful of goodies will go up for grabs. Please, please, leave an email for me in your comment if your name does not directly link to you/your website. I can't tell you how many names I've drawn only to find that I couldn't contact the winners. I simply draw again, but it is rather heartbreaking to see the first name get tossed.

There are occasionally some goblins that stop by in October, just for kicks. I am taking down the comment moderation security and we will hope that we skate under the spam radar again this year. Also, Blogger doesn't always play nice with every app, so there are times when you may have to come to the giveaway page directly (not via the FB app, for example) and leave a comment that way.

As always, if your privacy is of concern (it's totally cool if you don't want to admit in public that you enjoy the same reads as I do) or if you simply cannot get your comment in on the current giveaway post for some reason, you can send an entry in using the "Make Contact" button on the top of the blog.

All mail will go out within three business days of receiving the winner's address and will be sent via the most reasonable shipping rate. Please note that your parcel could take anywhere from 5 business days to reach you (in most of North America) to five weeks (if you are in the EU).


Legal Bits:

* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America,  who are 18 years of age or older. This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law.  Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.

*  Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada).  The skill testing question will be in a form similar to: 1 + 2 - 1 =

*  This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.

*  This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.

* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.

I have chosen all the books/cards featured this month myself.  I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone.  This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop

Aug 15, 2017

Of Summer, Sacrifice, and Sacred Places


The frantic movement of bee and wasp tonight has given me pause. Are they drunk on summer still, or are they vigorously preparing for the lean seasons to come? My late summer garden offers more for them this year than last, and I suspect they are grateful. The foxgloves have bloomed heartily and the sweet peas, though fading, are yet putting on a ruffled pink show. The insects whirl around the purple hyssop flowers and encircle the second crop of blossoms on the raspberry bushes (the very things I cut to the ground early this spring thinking it would tame them, and now they are nine feet tall). 

The winds and rain we've been calling on to sweep away the wildfire smoke blanketing the valley arrived for one brief evening on the weekend and blotted out the view of the peak of the Persieds meteor shower. It also pushed over all but two stalks of my corn and most of my sunflowers but I can see the sky tonight for the first time in weeks and that's a small price to pay for stars. I've missed watching the summer sunsets more than I can say. 

I can't go out to the gardens anymore without crushing a leaf of this or that in my fingers. Tonight I am redolent with the essence of hyssop and mugwort and lemon balm. The grasshoppers are ticking away in the long grass and the mild temperature is a blessed relief from the mid to high nineties we've suffered through for the better part of a month. The wind is rousing again, and I'm warily eyeing the corn that I've propped up with pieces of poor garden fencing. I'll know in the morning if my meagre fix has been successful. 

The tomatoes, onions, and peppers are being plucked now and I have a constant dance of nightshades in the fridge at all times. I like to cut up the four different types of tomatoes I grew this year, along with whatever peppers and onions are being harvested and have this salsa-of-sorts at the ready to toss into omelets, salads, or onto crusty bread for bruschetta. The corn is coming in handsomely from my friend's ranch. My corn dolly has been created for the year but I cannot kindle a blaze to burn last year's doll, so her offering will have to wait until the fire ban is lifted for my area.


I gave the most valuable sacrifice I had to offer on August eve, my beloved black cat who couldn't find his sturdy legs any longer, and it seemed that the world understood how difficult a parting that would be for me. It presented me with an opportunity to heal my heart, and I flew off to New Mexico and spent the better part of a week in a high desert of juniper and pinion pine and red clay. I fell asleep to the sound of coyotes calling, yipping and howling across the wilderness outside my window. I watched sunsets and moon-rises so stunning I gasped, and stood on a balcony feeling the swell in my chest as a storm blew in and lightning flickered on the horizon.



I walked the side streets and plaza of Santa Fe, my senses seduced by whiffs of leather, cigars, fresh corn tortillas, and sweet perfumes I couldn't place, all pouring out of shop fronts. I admired rows of steer skulls and pottery, paintings and sculptures at each turn, and turquoise in almost every window. I was more entranced by the Catholicized spirits and symbolism than I thought I would be, collecting up a pocket shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe and a charm covered in milagros to bring home with me, but beneath the grand basilica and religious top notes of the area, a deeper flavour emerged. I could feel the hum of something older beneath my feet. I slept in a bedroom that was partially submerged in the earth of the countryside and I dreamed deeply and awoke feeling more myself than I had in a very long time. 


I gathered with a group of amazing women, spent time with two soul-friends that I'd never met but who felt like home, and learned the song and fragrance and spice of an area that seemed so right that I can still taste it on my tongue. There was laughter and bone-deep sharing of lives and loves and losses. There were candles lit every day, from the simple to the most sacred. There was holy water from historic churches partaken of, and used to anoint places on me that would surely have caused the pious to blush. There was guacamole that caused a ripple of elation usually reserved for more carnal situations, and there was deep fried ice cream. And on the way home, after maneuvering through airports late into the night, there was a thunderstorm viewed from 30,000 feet and a moon so red that it might have been a pinprick of my own blood somehow left hanging in the sky.


These last few days as I reoriented myself to hazy skies and a valley situated at a much lower elevation than the high plains that skirt the mountains of New Mexico, I've been feeling like there are things coming to a conclusion in my life. I can't quite flesh it all out at this moment, but I suspect it has something to do with the last four years not really unfolding the way I had planned, and how I've sailed through the high waves and windless seas, and how it's all brought me to this moment. A dear friend asked a few weeks ago about my plans for the upcoming solar eclipse and I hadn't answered his question because I didn't know that I was feeling moved by it in any particular way. Only two days ago, I wasn't sure I even cared about the eclipse. But now I'm sensing that there will be some work or observation of note. I'm left wondering if this impression of things coming to completion is respective of the World card from the tarot. Or perhaps the Death card. Or something more prosperous, like the nine of pentacles (yes, please). Time, and eclipse, I suppose, will tell. 


As I plunge ahead into harvest tide duties, jamming, drying, pickling, and freezing my garden gleanings and gatherings-up of local crops and wild plants, there is also less tangible work being attended to. The altar has a simple new addition of a Mercury working and my local spirits are being tended to as I find my way back to wandering in the woods and beside rivers. I've not been neglectful, but the heat and smoke of the past month has kept me closer to home than I would have liked, and that means all my libations and songs have been gifted to the valley floor and not so much the hills and wilds. I know they haven't forgotten me though. 

I hope your summer has been kind. I hope you've had play and rest and are finding that a satisfying harvest is beginning to come in. I wish whatever blessings you long for upon you as the sun disappears and then rejoins us on the 21st of August. (If you have solar eclipse plans, I'd love to hear them.) The languid late summer days aren't over yet, though twilight and pre-dawn are stretching out their dusky fingers and settling deeper into our hours of light. Welcome them with me, won't you? We don't have to say goodbye to the sun yet. But oh, those dark-kissed early evenings in the garden, or curled up on outdoor furniture under twinkle lights with others, are some of my favourite hours of this time of year.




Witch Notes:

~ Though I am Canadian, I am, like everyone else, nursing a deep heartsickness over the events in Charlottesville (and those that have occurred since the US election). There are a number of things that can be done by those who have means and energy to give. Everyone will attend to these things differently, but if you rally or donate or weep or open your home to others or pray or curse, I support you. Process and engage in the most healthy way you can, and please take care of yourself.

There is only so much I can do from here, but I've donated to a local Charlottesville charity doing good work in the area, and I've got some wicked thorns from a lightning-struck black locust that are doing an entirely different sort of work on the situation. In the meantime, soak your spirit in these beautiful words from HecateDemeter, Southern Pride in a Time of Terror

~ Briana Saussy has opened registration for Spinning Gold, her gorgeous foray into fairytale, magic, and the Sacred Arts. I participate each year and adore Bri's heart, spirit, and work. Check it out, here.

~ October is just around the corner (yes, really) and the Great October Book Giveaway will be back for the 7th year. I couldn't put on such a fantastic event each year without the generosity of some of the authors and artists I feature. I have a nice selection of goodies stacking up for my readers already, but if you are an author (or know one) who wants to participate by sending along a tome or two to some lovely readers, please feel free to message me. The giveaway was originally a book-only event, but it has now grown to include card decks and art/talismans. The theme each year is geared toward the varied things I blog about - witchcraft, folklore, herbalism, cartomancy, and associated ideas, so if your work falls into those realms and you'd like to help out, let me know. 


Jul 6, 2017

Dog Days and Wild Roses


What befell June, only the gods know now. I have shut my eyes to the passing of time because it is more uncomfortable for me to note it, than to simply keep putting my hands in the dirt and taking in the sunsets. Watching what was pass away doesn't feel as satisfying as noting what is. And for the first time in a long while, I am feeling a ripple of excitement about what is to come.

There are disturbances in the force. A beloved cat is faltering, and I'm unsure if he will completely right himself again (even with veterinary assistance). His illness means I have to miss meeting a friend I've been waiting years to hug. I have nieces trying to navigate fresh-adulthood and finding it a bit more heartbreaking than they had hoped. I wish I could scoop them up under their arms and swing them in circles again until they forget how cruel the world can be. But we cultivated a love of the land in them too, and so they run off to the woods to camp and they swim in the lakes and revel in the gardens, and those things can ease an ache in such refreshing ways.

My aches are all welcome, for they are familiar friends. There are talkative muscles in my thighs, groaning from all the squatting between garden beds weeding and pulling up one crop to plant another. We had one brief afternoon of rain a little over a week ago, and the light but lingering moisture was exactly what I needed to dig my fingers under the grass making itself at home in the beds. I could push my fingers down, and find the roots, and pull them out without disturbing the plants around them too much. I have dirt under my nails that may never come out, but I also felt more at peace that night, weeding in the soft rain, than I have felt in quite a while. They say that bacteria in soil can be beneficial for humans, and I don't know that I've ever been so happy to share my body with another being.


There are other twinges that I'm breathing through, one gorgeous summer day at at time. Ripples of the heart and spirit that can only be assuaged by heat lightning, and the sight of growing ducklings, and Jupiter winking down upon me as the sky lets the light slip from its shoulders each evening. Those pangs are the exquisitely human ones. The gifts-with-purchase. There is nothing to be done about them but let go. And you can always burn.

I burned brightly in June. I danced around the midsummer's eve fire, and then again a few nights later on the eve of St. Johns' day. I blessed my body with rainwater and herbs, censed myself with the fragrant smoke of wood and sacred plants, and softened and perfumed my skin with a balm created from this spring's violets. I lit candles, called to my spirits, tossed cards and gained insight. I walked deep into the woods, harvesting wild roses, yarrow, self-heal, and silver wormwood. I made offerings as I went: herbs and waters, local fruit, and one particularly expensive bottle of local wine I had hoped to keep, but a certain guardian of my favourite three-way crossroads had other plans.

I have also offered up more blood this year than I would have liked, but the impassioned spring rains flooded the valley and the mosquito population has flourished. I don't mind giving portions of myself to garden or beast. I've felt more maenad than human these past weeks. The lushness of June was so erotic that it's a wonder I wore clothes at all and didn't bite everyone I came into contact with. I have been listening intently to the land and the places just beyond my fingertips. The realms I can see, the plants and animals I encounter, speak to me of how to move through these mid-year months. They whisper of herbal blends to turn into new balms and suggest undertakings that might stretch me further along the path I wander.


My working altar is spilling over with glass jars full of elixirs, oils, and a potent Florida Water mother tincture, all from wild-harvested and home cultivated blossoms, roots, and leaves. The kitchen sinks have been overtaken by lettuces, peas, strawberries, and assorted herbs. The rafters are hung with bunches of fragrant and healing flora. My visits to the farmers market have yielded the season's first cherries and apricots, as well as bundles of just-picked lavender. But now the heat of summertide is upon us and the energy shifts from the explosive growth and green of June to the languid and somewhat dangerous days of July. We've already had wildfires locally, and only a couple days ago the next town up the lake suffered the loss of two homes and an orchard after a fire started and was exacerbated by the wind. 

We move carefully in July and early August, conserving energy and water. I attempt my yard and garden work at dawn and dusk, and we gather in the twilight hours on patios and tucked into cool spots in courtyards. The beverages are more icy, the fare lighter, and the laughter echoes long after the stars have appeared. Magical work is more quiet and focused. The fire ban means no more exultant work around outdoor flames. Things get buried or tossed into moving water. Talismans and amulets are formed out of found root and wood and feather and bone. A good portion of my practice becomes as simple as listening and roaming with sharpened intent (which is always how I endeavor to move through the world, but there is something about the careful placement of foot and attention during the most unforgiving times of the year). When it has become so hot that you cannot pack enough water with you and exertion can mean heat-stroke, you are forced to rethink the way you plot your course.

Still, the Dog Days have their charm. Some may yet be watching fireflies. I've been taking in sunsets that streak the sky with purples, and waiting each night on the dragonflies and bats that soar past chasing their dinner. Soon my friend's corn will ripen and we will have our yearly first-harvest celebration at her ranch, but for now I'm trying to encourage my late planting of pumpkins to stretch out, and bemoaning the catnip that jumped its container last year and is marauding through the perennial beds.

I hope your summer has made itself at home in such a pleasing way. I hope you have had bright things to raise your eyes to, whether you are a fan of fireworks, stars, or sunsets. And I hope you find your own groove, your own magic, to dance with on these hot and heady days and nights.






Witch Notes (like field notes, but with extra magic)

~ I made a pesto with the wild onions I harvested recently, and it was spectacular tossed into a delicate angel hair pasta. You can make pesto however you prefer, but this recipe from Hank Shaw is how I roll.


~ I keep a canning jar of locally made apple cider vinegar in the fridge that I toss fruit into all summer long. This is the strange delight that becomes the shrubs I drink, sometimes with the addition of a simple syrup when I'm mixing it into a cocktail or soda water, or I simply add a tablespoon of the vinegar to an icy, sweetened soda like gingerale for a refreshing libation on a sweltering day. Emily Han wrote a fantastic book focused on creating your own unique cocktails (these work for alcohol-free beverages too) but you can also check out her fruit shrub syrup recipe here.

~ Summer reading:

I'm still making my way through The Witching Herbs by Harold Roth (not because it isn't wonderful, but because my own gardening and wild-crafting adventures have eaten up most of my time of late).

I'm also trading off with Byron Ballard's newest tome, Embracing Willendorf, and to feed my ghost-story appetite, a gifted copy of The Bell Witch of Tennessee sits beside my bed and gives me a thrill each night. I can't speak of the stack of books waiting on me to complete these three, because I will feel guilty and stop buying books, and we can't have that.

~ Briana Saussy has her next Feast Day for the Radically Reverent approaching.

~ I'm in mad love with Renée Magnusson and her Sunday Sin missives that show up in my inbox each week. They are amazing, hilarious, and sometimes heart-wrenching. She holds nothing back.