For a while now, I've flirted with the idea of beginning a newsletter. But... the hyper promotional "buy now," "OMG I have a sale!!" "you need to do this or you're doing EVERYTHING WRONG!!!!1!!" feel of many newsletters is just gross.
I knew that if I were to put out anything for you lovely people that it would have to be something that I would not only love to put together, but that I would love to receive. Time is too precious to all of us and I don't have time to waste writing words that none of you want to read.
Conversations with a few dear friends on twitter guided my thoughts and in the end the idea coalesced into something that is nostalgic (especially for you 90's witches,) wistful, and potentially inspiring at times. It's also about as un-newslettery as a newsletter can be -while still providing you, dear readers, with something of value.
Every Dark Moon, I'm going to write you a letter. It will be filled with musings, tales of my latest adventures (did I mention I'm traveling about the country again?) and filled with practical, experienced based witchcraft that you can put to use now. None of that sparkly-crystals-light-a-candle-and-think-happy-thoughts shit (because we all know I could only fake that for half a paragraph) but pragmatic witchery that I've used effectively and want to pass on to you because I know it works. Plus, I want to babble to you all about random witchcraft centered things that are perhaps too intimate for a blog post and too convoluted for social media. And, because I love you, there will be offers for free bone readings every now and then, too.
Consider me your penpal you never have to write back to (though I'd love it if you ever do!) If a once a Dark Moon letter from a witch-friend sounds good, you can subscribe here. Of course, as someone who tends to be reclusive more often than not, your privacy is respected and email addresses will never be used for anything other than this Dark Moon Newsletter.
First newsletter comes out this next Monday, November 28!
The road crawled lazily across a landscape rich in texture and dominated by hues of burnt yellow and dusty browns. It was easy going, a gentle road over gentle hills. In the distance no more than 20 yards from the edge of the road, something caught my eye.
A tree stood, solitary. It was a gnarled beast, growing out in two directions rather than up. A contradiction to itself, one side was vibrant, a kaleidoscope of Autumn colors; the side closest to the road was dry, dead, the bark peeled away by the relentless wind let bone white wood shine through.
From that bone dry branch hung a body. Its face, swollen with the early stages of decomposition, bulged above the length of rope wound about its neck and flung over the tree branch. The body hung heavily, as swollen rotting bodies are wont to do, but managed to find the desire to swing with a breeze that didn’t touch any of the surrounding vegetation.
It should come as no surprise that often times, well laid plans must be amended. So, too, it should come as no surprise that sometimes those plans amend themselves back to the originally intended route, leaving you floundering, out of breath, and thoroughly unprepared. It cannot be stated strongly enough that as much as the Universe may have a hand in our lives, it definitely does so with a sense of humor as it pushes us forward to become better and stronger than we currently are.
My middle son (9 years old) and I have been discussing the purpose of life lately. It’s been an interesting discussion that has brought many things to mind for me, especially with the way that life has been going lately. We determined that the purpose of life, in the most general sense, is to go forward. To keep going forward. There’s a lot of implications in that and there’s a part of me that wants to defer to a Pixar movie and start singing “just keep swimming” but I digress…
Mercury goes retrograde TODAY and the Dark Moon peaks tomorrow night which makes now the perfect time to get some insight into any matters with which you may be struggling. To that end, $5 readings are back until 8/31 -Dark Moon night.
These are quick little 1 page readings to give you some extra insight and are great if you've been curious about how throwing the bones works as a divination method, but haven't tried out yet.
Looking for something a little more in-depth? Full readings are still available.
One of my greatest obsessions lately has been baking bread. It is one of those odd domestic activities that is deeply satisfying and imparts a discernible feeling that all is right and well in the world. Whether or not everything is right and well is another thing altogether, but a fresh loaf of bread that you baked yourself as part of a meal brings a profound sense of comfort and security.
As it is August Eve and time to celebrate the beginning of the grain harvest, I am sharing this bread recipe so that you, too, may enjoy the comfort that baking bread brings. From the feeling of being in touch with older times when all was made at home and from scratch to the satisfaction of a belly full of good food, I hope this recipe brings you as much comfort and joy as it has been bringing me.
This post is part of a sporadic series focused on helping one to Be a Local Witch. With so much emphasis placed upon having all the “right tools” and the “right herbs” in modern witchcraft, it’s easy to forget to actually do the witchcraft. This series aims to show how terribly simple and amazingly rewarding it can be to center your witchcraft practice on the unique location in which you live. By working with what is readily available to you -be it trees, herbs, or spirits- you enable yourself to better connect to the natural energy currents where you live, to better establish yourself as a natural part of that environment, to better employ the aid of the genius loci, to broaden your knowledge of the area where you live as well as the plants and animals that also make it their home, and to align yourself with the spirit of the historical witch who would have used nothing that they did not find or make themselves.
It is with that goal in mind, to strengthen your practice by narrowing focus to the use of local herbs, that this next post is offered.
Later posts in this series will explore the idea of working with plants as magickal allies, a variety of native and naturalized herbs that are likely growing in your own backyard (such as the previous post on the hex breaker Witchgrass,) drying and storing herbs for the highest quality of dried herb matter, as well the subjects of offerings and things to keep in mind to help you to more respectfully interact with the Land and plant spirits when wildcrafting or just enjoying time in wild spaces.
The practice of harvesting herbs from the wild is known as wildcrafting. When one gathers wild herbs with the intent of causing as little environmental impact as possible the process is called ethical wildcrafting. There are basic and straightforward guidelines to ethical wildcrafting that ensure that not only is the natural population of the plants you harvest left healthy and strong, but so, too, are the individual plants that you harvest from (the exception here being when roots are harvested.)
These guidelines are very easy to employ, and the included infographic can be printed off and taken with you on your next wildcrafting trip until these guidelines become second nature.
(that no one ever talks about, shhh....)
It’s pretty obvious that most people on the outside of the magickal and witchcraft communities don’t realize the extent of transformation and the true development of abilities and skills that a witch undergoes throughout their practice. And while this is really something to be expected, it seems that too often there are those within our midst who don’t fully realize that yeah, this stuff is really real and yeah, not everything is metaphor.
It may be tempting to blame some of this, at least in part, on the lack of breadth contained in much of the easily accessible information on witchcraft, but considering that most of this information is specifically aimed at those with little to no knowledge, the inclusion of such could be overwhelming and likely discourage more than a few people from continuing in their practice* -not to mention, it really isn’t relevant within that context.
So, with that in mind, that basic info can only cover basic points (in order to retain relevancy, efficacy, and value) this is a quasi-tongue in cheek post on some of the surprising developments that you can expect thanks to the time, effort, and dedication you put into your witchcraft practice.
a Witch's Guide to Tanning Hides
This is the third and final part of a ridiculously long post covering at home methods for tanning hides and leather. These methods are of particular interest to the witch due to their simplicity, great results, and fun use of questionable substances. Part 1 covered important terms and how to prepare a hide for tanning, part 2 explained how to tan hides with battery acid, and this post will cover how to tan hides using brains and smoke.
Together, these mark the fifth installment on a 6 post series: Working with Zoological Remains -that is, the use of bones, feathers, wings, paws, and skulls in witchcraft. Previous posts include An Introduction to Working with Zoological Remains; Bone Collecting: How-to acquire Bones and Other Zoological Remains Regardless of Where you Live; Of Skull & Bone: Cleaning and Whitening; and The Joy of a Salt Box: Preparing Wing & Paw. The final installment of this series will focus on the actual use of zoological remains in witchcraft. Of course, while there is no one and true way to employ these sacred items within witchcraft, we will look at general techniques and methods, building off of the basic ideology that has been discussed throughout each of these posts.
Tanning Hides with Brains
Another option that you have is to use the brain of the animal as part of the tanning process. This is a really great option if you happen to go hunting yourself or have a friend who hunts and would be willing to give you the hide and head. Conveniently, the size of any animal’s brain provides the right amount needed in order to tan its hide. This makes it a very economical choice and is definitely one to consider for the magickal worker as it puts another part of that animal to good use. Taking those extra steps to ensure that as little as possible goes to waste is the least we can do when taking the life of another creature in exchange for the continuation of our own lives. This also pays the most respect to the spirit of that animal who -possibly, though not guaranteed- may decide to stick around, maintaining the connection to its remains and, thus, being able to aid you in your Work.
a Witch's Guide to Tanning Hides
This is part 2 of a 3 part post on at home tanning methods. These are relatively simple methods that will produce tanned hides and soft leather, but do vary considerably in amount of effort and time. Part 1 introduced some important terms, as well as discussing skinning, fleshing, and long-term preservation for hides. In this, part 2, we'll jump into a relatively quick way to tan a hide, leaving the fur on.
This complete post makes up the fifth part of a series on Working with Zoological Remains. Zoological remains are carefully preserved animal parts that are used with reverence within witchcraft. They may house the spirits of animals or other entities or be used exclusively for their symbolic or archetypal value. Previous posts in this series include An Introduction to Working with Zoological Remains, Bone Collecting: How-to Acquire Bones and Other Zoological Remains Regardless of Where you Live, Of Skull & Bone: Cleaning & Whitening, and The Joy of a Salt Box: Preparing Wing & Paw. The final post of this series will focus on methods and techniques for working with bones in witchcraft, as well as other zoological remains, such as wings, feathers, feet, horns, hooves, and antlers.
Tanning Hides with Battery Acid
The following method is relatively simple, though it will require a number of materials. It also is much faster than the brain and smoke tanning method, which will follow it. This method allows you to tan a hide -keeping the hair on- to produce a soft and pliable hide that can be used for just about anything, dependent upon the size of the hide and your sewing skills.
Throwing the Bones
Whether you're struggling with something spiritually or in everyday life, bone divination can highlight areas where focus is needed and identify alternative ways forward.
· Dark Moon vs New Moon -What's the Difference?
· Solitary Full Moon Ritual
· Setting up an Altar
· 8 Consequences to Practicing Witchcraft (that no one ever talks about, shhh...)
· Be a Local Witch: Working with Witch Grass
· Guide to Ethical Wildcrafting