Holiday Gift Guide for the Mystic

It’s full on holiday shopping time. But what do you buy the mystic in your life? What do you get for the witch that has everything? Let me help you!

This is my first ever gift guide. I typically don’t want to encourage the commodification of sacred holidays, but who doesn’t like pretty things? And who doesn’t want to support independent artists and other small businesses?

So without further ado here are things that I would love – I mean, that the spiritual person in your life might love. In no particular order, I present to you a list of beautiful things. I’ll admit, I have expensive tastes. Some are these items are quite affordable, others …. well, that’s why there are wish lists.

Sri yantra from Ekabhumi

Sri yantra from Ekabhumi

Ekabhumi creates many beautiful things, but his yantras are glorious. These are large geometrical paintings, prayed over and infused with intention, much like icons in the Christian tradition. I would love to have one of these in my home. I think it would look beautiful over a lovely murti of a Shiva Nataraja, perhaps hanging in a yoga studio, or blessing some one’s home.

You can order Ekabhumi’s yantras here.

Beautiful garnet and copper japa mala by Bija Malas

Beautiful garnet and copper japa mala by Bija Malas

Several months ago I tried to make my own malas, prayer beads used in Hindu and Buddhist practice. I did not make it out of the bead store. I faced several challenges: the overwhelming choices presented at the bead shop, not knowing the meanings behind any of the stones, my limited budget, and the reality that I was not about to have the time, money or manual dexterity to create a practice mala, much less a beautiful final product. I went searching online and found Bija Malas.

Bija Malas are very pretty and seem quite affordable to me. There are shorter bracelet ones, along with more traditional 108 bead malas. While I long for a 108 bead mala, I don’t know which of those I would prefer! They are all so beautiful. These would make a valuable gift for the Buddhist, Hindu, yoga teacher or student, or meditator in your life.

Jet and amber necklace

Jet and amber necklace

Raven Edgewalker creates a wide array of crafts and wares for witches. I am particularly fond of her amber and jet jewelry. These two stones work well together to purify energy and to protect from and neutralize negative energy. Very handy for witches and sorcerers.

This particular necklace is available from greenwomancrafts for $49.

Alchemical Raven by Liv Rainey-Smith

Alchemical Raven by Liv Rainey-Smith

I love art and long to have a house full of art and crafts. I also adore word cuts. Liv Rainey-Smith combines my love of art, wood cuts, and occult themes. I discovered her work at the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle a few months ago. Her work changes regularly. There were several pieces I saw there that aren’t listed in her store now. I assume they sold – and for good reason!

This glorious cut is called Alchemical Raven and sells for $350.

For the literary and discerning magician, witch or occultist of any stripe, anything by Scarlet Imprint is a good choice. Their works never fail to be thought-provoking, informative, and created with the highest quality materials. Scarlet Imprint books are bound spells. Their latest offering is the two-volume edition of The Testament of Cyprian of the Mage, last in a series on grimoires by Jake Stratton-Kent. I, however, do not have Pomba Gira, and have wanted to read it for a while now.

Pomba Gira

Pomba Gira

Hey! This is the only one not sold! I'll take it!

Hey! This is the only one not sold! I’ll take it!

Another artist whose work makes my witchy heart beat faster is Lindsey Kustusch. Her raven and owl series are stunning. Sadly, they are almost all entirely sold out! The one pictured at left is the last one left!

She also has a series of paintings of San Francisco, and those are striking as well. Perhaps you know some one who has left their heart in San Francisco?

Her bottle still lifes are delightfully creepy and will likely appeal to those who love curiosities, as well as liquor. Not that I know anyone like that…..

Sarah Lawless is a writer, artist, crafter, and master salve maker. I would take just about anything from her. I can recommend her flying salves first hand. Her apothecaries are on hiatus for the holidays, but I still want to give her work a shout out. Her knives are stunning.

chibiTarot-smallImages-09-theHermitFinally, no gift guide is complete without a nod to the Chibi Tarot. Only the major arcana is available at this time. This may look like a silly cartoon deck, suitable for the kid, manga lover, or video gamer in your life. Do not be deceived! This is a legitimate and powerful deck. It’s also created by husband, who is writing a book along side this deck and gearing up to begin the minor arcana.

I think this collection of beautiful things is enough to get anyone’s gift giving juices flowing.¬† Stay tuned next week for recommendations for the kiddos! I guarantee that list won’t be as pricey as this one.

Sharing the Love

Earlier this week I was nominated for a Liebster Award by a reader. Basically this is a like a chain-letter blog love fest. A reader with her own blog included me in a list of blogs she really loves. Thank you!!

I’m not going to follow all the rules (because that’s not my style), but I thought I’d answer the questions my fellow blogger posed on her post and then recommend a few blogs myself.

  1. What is your favorite quote/proverb? I don’t have one. Really.
  2. Do you prefer incense or candles and why? Both! If I had to only have one I’d choose the candle, because sometimes incense can make me sneeze, especially if I have a cold coming on.
  3. What is your favorite music genre? Again, I can’t pick just one. I love music, but I barely listen to it. Mostly I need music without words; my head is already too full, and the kids too noisy, to put up with yet another person’s words! Mostly if I choose music it is symphonic or ambient.
  4. Do you have any artistic skills (draw, write, sing, etc.)? I am a classically trained singer.
  5. Grease or Footloose and why? Footloose. Grease always annoyed the crap out of me. When I was 9 I would put on my Footloose soundtrack LP and choreograph entire dances.
  6. What is your dream job? I’m living it! Writing, thinking, raising my kids.
  7. Of all the books you own, which do you consider the most sacred? The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs, a gift given to me by my aunt when I was born. As for spiritual sacred texts, I no longer hold one text as more sacred than another.
  8. Do you have any phobias? As I get older heights get much harder. I also feel funny about moths and bats. But I have no true phobia.
  9. Who would you prefer to have as a child: Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees, and why? I don’t know who those people are. Other than Freddy Krueger, and ew.
  10. What song are you not ashamed to say you love? Oh, I have a love of cheesy pop music. I will admit here and now that there are some Katy Perry songs that I quite enjoy.

And now for two blogs that you might not know about. Confessions of a Hedge Witch is a smart, witchy blog by a priestess, academic, and all around wild woman. When Death Calls is infrequent, but dark and poetic. I enjoy both and you might too!

Mercurial

I don’t know a lot about astrology. Most of the time I don’t find it scientific or accurately reflecting my experience. Occasionally, it is eerily precise.

Today Mercury goes retrograde for three weeks. I’d like to blame this starry shift on the mess I made with a friend on Monday. I am a strong and confident communicator in many mediums. I’m even pretty good at public speaking! But throw in volatile emotions and I can turn defensive, terse, and sometimes mean. I definitely have a few things to work on. So I’m not thrilled about a major shift in the astrological sign that governs clear communication.

One wise and witchy friend of mine always reminds people when Mercury is about to go retrograde. He embraces these periods, reminding me to use caution, to go deeper with friends, allow for slow and intimate communication, to use this time period to be more intentional about how and what we communicate. Given that I am coming out of a rough month with my husband and just stuck my foot in it with a dear friend, I am taking his advice to heart much more seriously. I have three trips coming up – one over each of the next three weekends, each trip designed to strengthen a set of relationships. Any reminder to be cautious, intentional, intimate, and deep is welcome.

Beyond astrological observation, for several months now I have been honoring Hermes/Mercury/Thoth/Hermes Trismegistus on Wednesdays, his day. Greek Reconstructionists and Hermeticists may roll their eyes at my weak efforts and limited understanding. As a Gemini, ruled by Mercury, and as a person who uses the internet for much of my communication, relationships, and livelihood, I think making friends with Hermes is a good idea. It’s an unfolding relationship. I don’t know much about him, beyond basic mythology and associations. I said some prayers today mostly along the lines of “oh, please don’t let me be an ass.” (No, the words were more poetic, even if that was the gist.) Right now, I’m burning a green candle as I type this.

*****

In other news, I am heartened, though not satisfied, with the US Supreme Court’s overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act and striking down of California’s Proposition 8. In light of this news and my blog post from last week, I would like to direct you to two excellent blog posts by my wise former teacher, T Thorn Coyle.

Love Will Out and Stand for Love Both are excellent posts about love, the law, and how the current decision is only the tip of the iceberg.

Sweet Vacation

Today I am leaving on vacation. I am going to Canada. Without my family. It’s been nearly a year since I did something longer than 4 hours without them. I am ready to recharge my batteries.

I’m headed to the Gathering For Life On Earth. Pretty cheesy name, but so far, I’ve found the people on the FB group friendly and the list of activities enticing. Plus, it’s only an hour or so outside of Vancouver, BC, so it is guaranteed to be beautiful. It’s been a decade since I’ve been to Canada. I love Canada.

Besides being in a positive and beautiful place, where I don’t have to cook or look after anyone other than myself, I am excited to meet new people in the wider Pacific North West, to see an old friend from ym California days, and get a hearty dose of ritual. It will be a balm to my chafed energy levels. I’m particularly excited to meet Sarah Lawless in person, as well as experience ritual by the Coru Cathubodua, a group I’ve heard so much about.

I’ll report back next week. Have a great weekend everyone!

Magic to the People

If you’re not familiar with Drew Jacob, let me introduce you. He’s the Rogue Priest and a professional adventurer. His blog was one of the inspirations for mine. He’s planning on walking to and through South America from Minnesota. He’s already made it to New Orleans, where’s he been wintering. It hasn’t been some idle winter for him. He’s been working as a magician, studying Vodou, and is now creating Magic to the People, a pay-as-you-can community magic shop!

I think this concept is rad on several levels. First, I love it when people see a need, take initiative, and then go carve out a niche to fill that need. Second, accessible magic is a need many people have, but it can also be out of reach, and I love the idea of bringing more magic to more people. Third, I love magic.

While I believe that anyone can make magic, it takes skill and training and learning. Because of these things, if you approach a practitioner or witch (or whatever label they’re using) the spell, working or tincture may be more than you can afford. Maybe you make magic, but you need advice or a kind that is outside your area of expertise. Magic to the People is a place that New Orleans folk can go to for advice.

I don’t live anywhere near New Orleans – I’ve never even been there! – but I like the idea so much that I want to support it. Free clinics of all sorts are important parts of diverse communities. I find them to be critical to the well-being of alternative communities. The magical community is no different.

I want to help bring magic to the people. You can learn more and contribute to the Indiegogo campaign if you are inspired.

Getting a tarot reading

I didn’t get a tarot reading from some one until years after I started studying the tarot myself. It is very possible that my first reading wasn’t until 2009, in Daylesford, Australia, the one that suggested I’d be moving abroad – and soon. (She was right. We had decided to move to Wales the day prior, and 9 months later we were in Wales.) I still primarily read for myself. For the last year or two I’ve begun taking advantage of the many other people I know who read tarot. Sometimes it’s a good idea to get a different perspective.

It’s not that I’m bad at reading for myself. In fact, I’ve gotten a really good feel for my decks and my intuition. But sometimes, for sticky, highly charged issues, I don’t see as clearly for myself as I might otherwise, either because I’m unwilling, or maybe because I’m hoping for a certain answer, or maybe because I’ve asked the wrong question.

When my friend Gwydion said he was offering tarot readings, I said yes immediately (full disclosure: he gave me a discount on my reading if I would blog about it). There were actually several issues I wanted some clarification around and I finally narrowed it down to one (and no, I’m not going to tell you what it was. Bonus points if you can figure it out based on the cards below!).

My reading

My reading

You might notice the cards are in German. Gwydion lives in Germany (and is German). He blogs in both German and English. It’s sort of a modified Celtic cross style reading.

While almost every tarot deck booklet, book on tarot, or beginning reader suggests a Celtic cross layout, I have found that no reader has ever used that layout for me. In fact, I rarely use that layout for myself anymore. As I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with tarot cards I’ve moved away from using it; I often create my own layouts, based on the question and the information requested.

When I received the reading my first instinct was ‘did I not ask the right question? This seems so…. thin/not right/too simple.’ I was really annoyed. I read the whole thing out loud to Adam and he looked at me and said, ‘no, that reading was RIGHT ON.’ Which made me even crankier.

See, that’s the benefit of having some trusted external insight: sometimes you won’t like what you hear. But it’s a necessary part of growth! So I sat with the information, and then I sat with it some more. And you know? He’s right on. I wanted Different Information. I wanted the How, the What. I was looking for different answers. This is why is was a good idea to have some one else do a reading for me.

He nailed a couple of things. There were a couple of things where I felt his insight gave me a new and surprising way to see something old and frustrating. Mostly I feel encouraged. I’m tempted to go back and pay full price for readings on the rest of my issues.