Book Review: The Good Witch’s Guide : A Modern Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and spells

Written by: Shawn Robbins and Charity Bedell, pub 2017 Sterling Publishing Co. 305pp

The Good Witch’s Guide is not your average, everyday introductory or advanced peep into the Craft. To be honest, owning quite a few of these guides, myself, I was used to the standard Wiccan/Witchcraft encyclopedia reference materials. Most of them, I find, are stuffy, and to be clear, I’m not a huge fan. When I cracked open this book, I was expecting this to be just another reference guide, however; I found myself pleasantly surprised. This book is a real page turner.

The Good Witch’s guide is full of wonderful spells, incantations.

There is a guide to crafting your own personal Magick and yes, stones, essential oils, colors and herbs.

It has everything from Witchy Wisdom, rituals and formulas, spirituality, folklore, health and health remedies.

Of course, there are sections dedicated to candle Magick, brewing your own potions, tinctures and salves.

This book is jam packed with all kinds of recipes for Sabbats and special occasions.

Want to know how other Witches are casting their own versions of these spells? There’s even a section dedicated to that!

There are tons of traditional spells that are tried and true and all of the “how-to’s” that go along with them.

In this authors humble opinion, this may very well become the definitive guide for all who take the time to read it. The Good Witch’s Guide is a pleasure to read for the Beginner in the Craft all the way to your most Adept Student. It can be used strictly as a reference manual or can be read cover to cover without the monotony of other reference guides.

On a more personal note, this is one book is one that I will cherish and read again and again!

Laurie Bates
Falcon Lunafyre

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Witchs-Guide-Modern-Day-Ingredients/dp/1454919523/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495484984&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Good+Witch%27s+Guide

Fun things to do to celebrate Winter Solstice in Michigan

Merry Solstice!!

This year, I have decided to look toward the fun celebrations that can bring cheer during the days surrounding the Winter Solstice. I usually cover all the traditional rites and gatherings, but … naaah.
I do what I want this year. So here are some things you can do now that the Battle of the Kings will take place tonight, and we turn the Wheel.

REJOICE!!! IT’S THE RETURN OF THE SUN AFTER TONIGHT.

  • Wednesday, December 21 -6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Solstice Celebration & Seed Sowing Party, “You don’t have to wait until spring to start your summer garden. Come learn about winter sowing & the magic microclimates that you can create in the snow … Bring your favorite perennial or biennial seeds to share and a washed milk jug or similar recyclable. Supplies will be on hand for those who do not have them and come ready to plant for 2017.”,
    Cultivate Coffee & TapHouse, 307 N River St, Ypsilanti, MI

     

  • Wednesday, December 21 -8:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Winter Solstice, “Join us as we celebrate the return of the Sun this Winter Solstice, also known as Yule! There will be a brief discussion on what Winter Solstice/Yule is as well as a simple ritual to honor this occasion.  This is a wonderful time to manifest what you would like for the coming New Year as well as giving thanks and gratitude for the passing year. There will be munchies and drink. If you would like to bring something to share with others please do”, Ingress Yugen, G3467 Flushing Rd, Flint, MI
  • Wednesday, December 21 -5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Winter Solstice Celebration,This year’s feast will feature foods grown in the AIHFS garden. There will also be a giveaway. Everyone is welcome to bring a new, homemade or gently used item to contribute! Donations are welcome to help cover event. Please bring your feast bundles! (plate, bowl, cup, utensils) …  for more info, call Nickole Fox 313-846-3718 x1400“, University of Michigan-Dearborn Campus. 

    The address for the University is 4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128. The Building info is: University Center, Kochoff Hall, 1133 University Center, Dearborn, Michigan. (once you get on campus you can look for signs to the University Center/Kochoff Hall)

  • Wednesday, December 21 -6:30 pm – 8:00 pm,Winter Solstice Charity Event, “Free Charity Event! Join us as we honor the longest night of year, giving way to the ever lengthening days. We will celebrate the sun with 108 sun salutations, followed by light snacks and beverages. Brand new coats and boots will be collected for the Light House Mission of Pontiac. The Light House Mission helps homeless mothers and children get back on their feet. Help keep a child warm, and feel the heat of the sun. No yoga experience is necessary. Space is limited. Please register online or in studio.”,Empower Yoga,41620 6 Mile Rd, Northville, Mzi
  • Wednesday, December 21 -7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Winter Solstice Celebration, “Join us for a beautiful celebration of light. We will meditate in a darkness, sing and dance… pray together and eat afterwords. Please bring a dish to share.”, The Coptic Center, 381 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Thursday, December 22 – 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, Champagne! And All That Sparkles, “Indulge in an All-Sparkling tasting in the heart of the holidays …We’ll serve crunchy munchies ideal with crisp bubbles – white pizza and popcorn for sure.” Plum Market, 6565 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield, MI $20
  •  Thursday, December 22 -7:00 pm, Beginning Salsa and Foxtrot, “These are great classes for beginners!”, Loretta’s Boutique and Ballroom,  
  •  Thursday, December 22 – 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Winter Solstice Celebration,
    The service will be a time to allow peace and calm within as we celebrate the earth’s turning with poetry and music. You are invited to bring a small item from the natural world as an offering for the focal table.”, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 4230 Livernois Rd, Troy, MI
  • Thursday, December 23 -12:00 pm – 2:00 pm, Free Christmas Dinner sponsored by Detroit Helping Detroit,We are happy to provide a Holiday Dinner for our cities less fortunate. Several hot Turkeys and Glazed Hams will be on hand with all of the fixings. Everyone is welcome to attend. We will also give out Christmas gifts and hygiene kits and clothing items … could use some extra donations. Call 313-784-2842 to arrange a pick up. thanks!” ,Tumaini Center, 3430 Third St., Detroit, MI

There are a lot of events going on, but these are a few that you might not know about. Some are just for fun, some are charitable, and many are about holidays. There is even a Christmas one that is such a good cause that it was listed here. After all, the Solstice is the Solstice.

The return of the Sun – winter fun for winter children

It’s the time of year when we are fast looking toward the days shortening and the awaiting the Winter Solstice. Cold noses and toes thaw out inside to the tune of yarn scarves sluicing off melting snows onto tile floors. Chubby little hands reach for cookies and carry sugar crumbs all throughout the house.

As the days grow darker, it is a great time to start the tale of the Sun King. There are many versions, but the one found on the Completely Pagan Facebook page is especially adorable. It is a precious moment between a grandfather and his grandchildren.

In a small voice, the child said “Grandfather can you tell me of the story of the first Yule? I always liked that one the best.”

With a clearing of his throat and another puff on his pipe, the Grandfather started to spin the tale of the first Yule.

Telling stories is thirst work, you know. A lovely activity that you and the children can take part in to celebrate the sunshine days that will come after Solstice would be to make Winter Solstice Tea. Here an easy peasey recipe by Charming Pixie Flora, aka Flora Sage.

She gives her recipe as

Winter Solstice Tea (aka Russian tea)

1 jar of Tang (or 566 g sweetened orange drink mix)
2/3 cup Instant tea (unsweetened)
1 package Lemonade mix (unsweetened)
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 tsp Cloves

Mix and store in a glass jar.

Use 2 teapoons (sic) of mixture in a mug with hot water.

However, I really like to add a burst of vitamin C and get that citric acid into the body during this time of year. So I suggest adding some sliced fruits to the mix. Lemons, limes, grapefruits, and even tangelos make fun additions, and serve as reminders of the Wheel of the Year.

Image by Scott Bauer

If you have a mind to, industrious folks can reserve a few of the fruits for peeling. They can be eaten with the tea, while the peels can be dehydrated for use. These can them be used in potpourri blends, incenses, or in other creative ways. Good times.

Winter crafts for winter children – snowflake fun

There is nothing quite like the enjoyment that can come from creating crafts together during the winter. Families and friends can enjoy the Yule season with an inexpensive activity that features that cold visitor, the snowflake. This part of the Wheel of the Year usually brings many of those for most areas in the Western hemisphere above here in the United States, and especially in my own great state of Michigan. Here are some fun ways that you can get together with children, or friends, of both, and make some memories.

pexels-photo-57812

 

Paper Snowflake Runner

This idea comes from  Bar Rucci., a graphic designer, art teacher, and mom. The idea is simple. Take some time out of the day and sit down and cut some paper snowflakes. There is no right way or wrong way to schedule this activity. It can be during, before, or after Yule.

By IlexSythe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Gather together your paper, scissors, some cellophane tape, and maybe some cocoa on a flat space. Fold your papers, and cut your snowflakes. Once everyone has made their desired masterpieces, spread them all out atop the table you want to cover to make the design you like. Now, tape all the flakes together, linking them on the bottom, arm to arm.

To jazz it up a bit, you could start off with scrapbook paper. Or if you are willing to deal with the legion of sparkles invading your space like a fey squadron, use some glue and glitter. Sequins are also a fabulous way to bring some zing.

For those of us who do public and private rituals, altar coverings made this way are a great way to include the younger members of the community or family to be a part of the solstice gatherings and festivals. Giant flakes can also be cut to use as a banner, if made with thicker paper products. There is no limit to how this activity can be scaled to suit the occasion. The only limit is the time and imaginations of those who are involved in the craft.

 

Thimble Babies

The thimble is one of those items that it seems that everyone knows about, but no one really notices anymore. They are found in dollar store sewing kits, in collections made of porcelain, and at holiday craft shows. But there is another use they can have for fun. You can make Thimble Babies.

pexels-photo-60229

For this to work, you will need to find a short and simple story that features at least two characters. You will also need a willing performer. Oh, and some other supplies:

A label sticker, or masking tape (plain)

A pom pom about the diameter of a dime.

Some washable markers, in different colors, with fine tips

Some glue

Thimbles

You are going to perform a quick finger play with your babies, so hopefully you have some stories that you enjoy. If not, then there are great sources at Songs for Teaching. They have some really fun ones.

For our example, we are going to choose “3 Blue Pigeons”.  Using the glue, attach the pom poms to three thimbles. You can, of course, color coordinate them if you wish. They should look like tiny towers with fuzzy balls on top. If you had four they could be itsy bitsty Watchtowers in a Circle teaching…..but I digress. (winks)

Now, attach the labels or masking tape to the front of the thimble. Draw little faces with the markers onto these. Have fun with it. For added character, consider gluing millet, or carrot, seeds as eyes. Adding some tiny blue tinsel would be great.

Once you have finished this, it is time to put them on your fingers. This is where the fun really begins, as each person can take turns being the story teller. Make as many as you like. It is simple and easy and they can be transported to Grandmother’s house with a minimum of fuss.

The story of the return of the Sun King would be fun, too. Yellow pom poms  are easy to find. You could even enact your own battle of the Oak and Holly kings. Just remember to make it fun.

Special note: I am not responsible if younger boys decide that Thimble Babies make armor for thumb warriors in the back seat of the Chevy while you are driving and one flies into the dashboard.

 

 

Write the Oak King, this year, and he will write you back

One thing that is a special memory for many of the children of the Western cultures is that of writing a symbolic character of the Winter Solstice, usually a form of Saint Nicholas. For Pagan children who celebrate the Winter Solstice with the stories of the Oak and Holly Kings, this Tradition may, or may not, be included in their festivities. But for those who do want to give their families the experience of writing a letter to a personification of the winter spirit, the Solstice Dispatch Service is ready to serve.
Julbocken 1912 - John Bauer
Julbocken 1912 – John Bauer
People from around the world wrote letters to the Postal Elves.  You could write both, or even the Yule Elves. The good folks behind the project took the time to actually put in the work to write those people back with physical letters. They even answered the ones that arrived after the Solstice.
This service is open to all ages: babies, kids, young adults, experienced adults, elders, etc. If you need to be reminded about the magic of this season, write to the Oak King and receive a letter back.
The Solstice Dispatch Service networks with many deities, so if you would rather address your mail to other figures who are more meaningful to you (last year, we received letters addressed to Odin!), feel free to do so. Our Postal Elves will ensure that your letters get to the right place.
Letters can be sent to:
c/o The Oak King
5890 Monkland, Suite 16-0612
Montreal, Qc
Canada H4A 1E9
The service if free to all. Age is not a barrier, they answer every age. Just be sure to include your return address and the name of the person wanting the reply.
Image: Tommy Tong
Image: Tommy Tong
What a great thing to do for the Solstice.  Also, what a wonderful way to get the children off the electronics and at the other end of a pen. Now, time to go get some stamps.

The Warmth of Yuletide Traditions

As a child, the winter season was one of excitement and delight, not for the religious connotation, but the giving aspect of this time of the year. While we did attend midnight mass, my Christian upbringing was never made the spotlight of my memories. My memories held dear the decorating, the gift giving, and spending time with family. Moving out on my own sparked the determination to continue the non-religious traditions of the season and, more-so, to ensure that I made new traditions of my chosen Pagan faith.

While my husband and I decorated our tiny Yule Tree and fabricated a topper with what supplies we could find, our solid Solstice traditions didn’t come into play until we had our daughter. Admittedly, we did not know exactly what traditions we wanted to keep, change, or make. We just knew that this time of year is ripe for giving and family. We needed to find traditions that would make us feel those and more.

When we finally got a normal sized tree, we began the continued tradition of filling the branches with all kinds of decorations. From the cinnamon stick hand-made stars to the Hallmark Tweety Bird  ornaments, our initially bare tree became something to be proud of. Then we added a Yule Log into the mix. This Birch log, with ribbon and pine cone decorations, lit a candle each week leading up to the Winter solstice. With our stocking hung up, it was starting to feel like the childhood nostalgia of the season that I remembered. We couldn’t stop there. We had some of the traditional fare, but we needed something specific to Yule. Something magical.

 

Handmade suns and countdown socks for Yule!
Handmade suns and countdown socks for Yule!

 

Each year, we create a sun, reminding each other of the longest night and of the sun that will grow stronger and stronger. We started small, with a paper plate and some paint, then we moved to cutting paper, and even further with creating a sun with string lights. Moving through ornaments and cookies, each year we find a new way to illustrate the sun coming back into our lives.

Now all we needed was some excitement building. It’s easy to get excited for Christmas with how saturated stores and media are, but we wanted our daughter to have excitement around Yule. Since we only give a few gifts, our focus for Yule had always been celebrating the season. We created a new tradition of counting down to Yule.

We purchased rainbow baby socks in bulk and used puffy fabric paint to write out numbers 1-22. Then we hung them up and fill with candy, small toys, or seasonal lip gloss. Something small to open each day in December, that keeps the warm feeling of the season going throughout the cold month. After all the socks are turned over, on the evening before the Solstice, we set out treats for the Clauses and reindeer.

This is all the buildup and preparation for our Solstice celebration. When the day actually arrives, we were ready to party! We start the morning with a gift left from Mr. & Mrs. Clause.

It’s a well-known fact that the Clauses make a special trip for those who celebrate Yule.

After cleaning up the oats inevitably spilled by the reindeer, we continue with our day, waiting patiently for the evening Yule dinner. As early as our daughter can convince us, we open each other’s gifts thoughtfully chosen for everyone to enjoy. We eat our dinner with sparkling juice in special glass cups for the occasion and end the evening with a story on what will happen that long evening. One story we have read is “A Visit to Mother Winter” by Starhawk (you can find a copy for yourself here). Together, we enjoy the company of those closest to us and retire to bed filled with love and wonder what the next Winter Solstice will bring.

I feel lucky to have found traditions that work so well for my family, whether they are continued traditions of my youth or newly created traditions. As we have family that celebrates Christmas and Hannukah, we are able to experience the varied traditions of others. Sometimes creating traditions revolve around religion, the winter season in general, or just to stick by those you love. Either way, family traditions during this time of the year are special and individual to each family. As long as you feel that warmth of the hearth, you’ve found the perfect tradition for you and yours.