Tag: witchcraft

Book Review: Air Magic by Astrea Taylor

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Air Magic by Astrea Taylor, part of the Elements of Witchcraft series. Released, April 2021 by Llewellyn Books.

I was instantly drawn to this book, Air Magic by Astrea Taylor, when I learned about it, because Air Magic is something so unusual to me. In my own craft practice I work Earth, Water, and Fire Magic often. But beyond incense and feathers, Air Magic was an enigma. This book clarified so much.

So when I saw that Taylor had authored the book, I was happy to dive right in, getting a special autographed release of it as well. I had already read her previous work, “Intuitive Witchcraft” which was such a great guide to what many of us in the Craft are truly practicing and a book I regularly recommend to my fellow pagans. Air Magic arrived with a sweet note, book mark and Air Magic stickers. It was an added bonus that really helped put me in the mood to learn all about Air Magic. And learn I did. Like did you realize that birthday candles on a cake are Air Magic. Of course, duh! But I never thought of it in regards to Air Magic. Fire, Earth, yes. But, it is also Air, as detailed in this book. And when you think about, it, yes. That fire cannot mold the ingredients into cake or light the candles without its fuel: Air. Make a wish, Witch.

Special bonus reminders of Air Magic accompanied the special autographed edition of this book during its inaugural release.

Air Magic is the second book in a series of the Elements of Witchcraft. It not only digs deep all that encompasses Air Magic, but even gives you meditations, rituals, and spells to begin your understanding of Air Magic and incorporating it into your personal practice. It also featured one of my other favorite Witches, Laura Tempest Zakroff. Taylor takes us through not only the history and mythos of Air Magic but also where Air Magic is aligned with animals, crystals, deities, and more. I was thrilled to learn that one of the trees on my property is aligned with Air Magic specifically with the Norse traditions. It will now become the place of my Freyja altar.

But the practical parts of how the reader can use Air Magic in their own practice is the most dynamic part of the book, so earns a top shelf placement in my bookshelf. I appreciate that some of the practical information, the how-to if you will, leans on the simple. Simple, everyday Magic is something that even novice Witches can begin to put into their lives. But there is more in depth rituals as well for those who feel best doing something more formal and detailed. I especially like the Air Magic for travel. And as I deepen my connection to Air Magic, I’ll be using the meditation she outlined in order to get in touch with the element of air.

Before reading this book, Air Magic felt so foreign. Taylor’s Air Magic lifts away the caul of Air Magic and spotlights its interwovenness in our every day lives and easy ways to incorporate it. Packed with deep references, you could easily grab tome after tome from the book’s bibliography and go down an Air Magic rabbit hole if you like. This Scorpio appreciates anything well researched. This book also revealed places where the Air element was way more active in my own practice. Praying Mantis familiar, anyone?

This book is a great blessing to learn about Air Magic.

Lastly, the fact that the word Magic is used in its typical sense – minus the K – in this book also spoke to me. If you’ve been here a bit, you know my feelings on Magic with a K.

Even as a Crone, practicing the Craft is all about learning. Books are the best way to get there, in my opinion. Air Magic is certainly a cornerstone to unravel the mysteries of Air Magic and presented in a clear, practical, and engaging way. If you find yourself drawn to Air Magic you need to add this book to your Witch Library. I’m glad I did.

Growing That Witch Life

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I had a reminder this past weekend about what it means to be a Witch, to live as a Witch, and how I’ve been doing that most of my life. The philosophies I’ve been living consistently in my life is all about what most, as well as myself, call Witchcraft. To wit, I have been living the Craft all along, even though at moments or in periods of my life it may not have looked like it outwardly. I mean, I knew that pursuing a life centered on Magic is what I wanted; but, It took me deeply dedicating myself to living the life of a Witch, centering my lifestyle and livelihood as a practitioner of the Craft, even achieving Crowned Crone status, to understand that it was all Witchcraft the entire time. 

I am so mostly self-taught in my practices as a Witch. And when I say that word, Witch, I mean that wise woman who moves with the environment around her in harmony and deep care and love. That Crone who wants you to learn what she learned so you can live so much better. You don’t make the same mistakes. Make new ones, because that’s how we learn to be a Witch, only doing that for which creates complimentary energies, like that in Permaculture. Please understand there was no coven initiation for me as a Witch; there was no big ceremony, even though I could have done one as a Solitary Practitioner, ala the Crone Crowning I did in October 2020; and there was no direct openly known “hereditary” Witch for me to be taught or told, “You’re a Witch.” Yet here I am, clearly a Witch.  

Figuring out how to live my life and with whom has been such a long fucking journey. I just knew that some things felt right. Move here — yes, I’m learning, exploring, trying out new things and lifestyles. Take this job — again another level of exploring, trying out new things and lifestyles. Yes, these people; oh, maybe not. Yes, these lovers; oh, maybe not. I love this dress; nope, I hate this dress. Hell, I own like one dress. My life seems to require pants more. You get the drift.

Some of my best memories of my childhood were when our family was outdoors or camping, or working in the garden or kitchen together. They also were some of the most stressful, but that’s part of the journey, too. We all wish those times were less, but they teach us, too. It takes a long time to become grateful for those terrible times. For many of us it taught us to be someone who fights for justice, or to be a lightworker/healer, or  to just be our truest selves and live our best life. And when you are not to the point of having gratitude for those times, the good memories still stand out. And if my family wasn’t outside, we were inside, surrounding ourselves with stories: writing stories, reading stories, hearing stories —especially when family visited— or even sometimes in the evening at home in front of the television or on a Saturday afternoon at the local matinee, we were watching stories. 

So I would, in my own way, seek out the activities of that which I have benevolent memories. I would garden. I would cook. I would seek out nature as entertainment. I would gather a family; sometimes, that was all the “Deadbeats” at a particular college campus, or a bunch of lost single Soldiers in the barracks, but family nonetheless. I would create some sort of nest whether for myself or for these hobbled together families. I wrote. I read. I experimented with story in audio and video form. I had articles published; short stories published, even a book (with number two coming soon). I worked in radio. I worked in television. I found that I would repeat this pattern, in slightly different ways. Maybe in this town? With these people? Surviving by myself above in an antique store in Casper, Wyoming. Working as a journalist and editor. Or in a condo with two addicts before heading off to the military. Then finally as a wife and mother wanting to make something work so hard, that I didn’t see how it very much was not working.

Throughout all of that, I would turn to the Craft. It’s mysticism that felt so natural and as an undoubtable fact in my brain. That first seemed to just be whispered to me as a confused 13 year-old, “You feel different; you think differently; you are different: You are a Witch.” I could see and feel the energy in things my family and many peers could not. I was called foolish for talking about colors around people. Spirit visitations were considered imaginary friends and making up stories (it didn’t help that I wrote and wrote and wrote stories from the time I was about 8 years old). When we camped, the animals, birds, and insects would appear when I was about or I would notice them before anyone else.

But as I traveled through life, and about this planet, I found people who felt like me, dug deeper like me, tried to connect and provide the stories of living in our times. I wild foraged or grew food. Then I would make sure that lifeforce is forged into the food to feed our bodies, minds, and souls. We do so with purpose and intent, holistically. It’s Magic. When I finally learned about shadow work and I started to bring all these joys, delights, and lifestyle into fruition. And it’s so high on the scale of good so often that I feel flabbergasted. I can’t believe this is my life. How did I get so blessed? Easy: The Craft. Now before I come off sounding like a privileged ass, my life is not all sundae cones with unicorn sprinkles. I have had to travel some dark roads of abuse, trauma, war, discrimination, rape, loss, grief, sadness, depression, and unbelievable pain. I mean, we’ve all been through a year of death while having to act like things are normal. However, I persevered. I pushed and fought to move forward, with the help of the Craft ala the Runes, my rituals, my knowledge that my words are Magic, that my Energy changes things. As a Witch, you learn, sometimes even naturally understand, that transformation, doing the work to achieve our best and highest good, can be like a ravaging forest fire. From its destruction, new life forms.

Here I am, in another iteration in my life. A new home. A new town. A new direction (Permaculture). Basically, me, but a new me. A new Witch. As I was in the garden this past weekend—our experiment with a perennial growing and market garden space (something to double our efforts and reap a yield) such a knowing of purpose and self washed over me. I was preparing the land to grow onions and cabbage. It has been patiently waiting for me to tend to it, and for which I was patiently waiting for the weather to be right. And out of no where, Spirit (perhaps Gefion or Freyja) whispered to me again, “Yes, Witch, this is good and right.” Of course the dork in me is like, “What’s good and right?” Because Witches are not Witches unless we’re also questioning, yes? 

Within a heartbeat of that message, I realized that living like this — to live with the land in a healthy fashion and provide basic needs and then, with luck, needs of the community, is part of the tenets of Witchcraft as well as Permaculture (a deeper blog post on this connection soon). Furthermore my work is that of many witches: to see the good in the world you wish to see, remove suffering, care for, and certainly love. All of those things started with camping trips, loving stories, and picking green beans in the garden. It evolved into a mishmash of Hedge, Green, Kitchen, and Intuitive Witchery that I live and work to elevate everyday, hence practice. And now that Crone-level mix of Witchery is married to Permaculture, and still writing. And if you look at my natal chart, you’ll like say, “but of course that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.” 

As if to punctuate it this a-ha moment, I saw my first true butterfly of the season, followed closely on its tail with two dancing dragonflies. That told me my ancestors were behind me. That even if in life they may have disagreed with what they knew about Witchcraft, they could see how I am living is divinely led. And just to really put me in awe and make sure I remembered this moment, the Pileated Woodpecker that I often hear hammering away nearby came and landed in Villa Westwyk’s ancient Willow tree. His visit let me know that I needed to share this moment of self understanding and reassurance of purpose with all of you. To let you know that even when things are confusing or seem hopeless, there is strength in perseverance and doing the work.  And the work is good. The confusion, the hopelessness, even fear has taken a backseat to some really spectacular Magic. And I’m here for it. For the long haul.

Wow, what a life. What parts of The Craft am I going to learn next? I’m sure it’s going to be something that continues this journey of peace and harmony and plants, food, and stories, with Magic the center of it all. 

How about for you? When have you been reminded of who you are, or who you should be, and how you’ve been living? And if you’ve made it this far to the very end, I send you good Witchy energy for many blessings to you.

Be ready for the Magic.

~Runa

You want to be a Witch?

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Get yourself a book, darling

I often get inquiries from what the internet has termed “baby witches.” As time goes on, I’m less enamored with that term, but people instantly know what you’re talking about. However, I am likely to use Novice Practitioner, or Emerging Witch or some such instead. Regardless of the term used, those beginning on their magical path ask me about how to learn. Without hesitation, I tell them to begin to grow their Witch Library. Read everything you can get your hands on. Use what speaks to you; discard what you don’t vibe with naturally; and embody the things you love. 

When I was first starting on my path, circa 1979ish, hunting down books on living a magical life were harder to find than they are now in this time of “new age” shelves at commercial book stores. Calling yourself a Witch in public was not as accepted as it is today or even necessarily safe. For many of us, we still work under a glamour of “normalcy.” Finding books became a bit easier with the strengthening of Weiser Books, Llewellyn, or even the now defunct Walking Stick Press, and of course that behemoth Amazon, and the surge of independent publishing. My Kindle was my mobile Witch library whilst living the traveling life and holds dozens of Witchy texts like Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic by Lisa Lister, Intuitive Witchcraft by Astrea Taylor, and Waking the Witch by Pam Grossman. But back when I was a Wtichlet, I had to hunt libraries, and used book stores, couching it in terms of Neo Spiritualism or Occult Curiosity. One particular Saturday, all dressed in black with matching gothy eyeliner and obnoxious pentagram earrings, the clerk in a long-gone secondhand book seller in the heart of Detroit pointed me to the very back room without a word. I still giggle about that.

Reading with the familiars (Granny Shadow & Ms. Snickle Fritz), one of my favorite pastimes and how I grow my craft.

One of the first books I read on magic was Witch Amongst Us by Lois Bourne, who entertained letters from a young girl living in the East side of Detroit. This led me to The Spiral Dance by Starhawk, whose continuing bibliography populates my bookshelves, both physically and digitally. Next I found myself reading Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein, which I often re-read when things looked dark. Yes, I re-read it in 2020. The point is I systematically found myself reading everything I could get my hands on — books on crystals and spells and on and on. 

When I lived in Europe (1993-1996), I was able to get many more volumes on everything from palmistry to tea-leaf reading. I spent time in the woods or on mountaintops with established covens and learned more from them. It was then that I learned about dream interpretation and Runes and deepened my connection to those things as well as herbalism and alchemy. And although I encountered people along my journey that shared and gifted me some of their knowledge the bulk of it has been by self-education through reading and practicing.

You can explore everything and really dive deep into the callings that speak to you best via books, whether it be Moon Magic, Solar Holy Days, or Divination, and more. It’s out there to explore. My tactic was to acquire everything I could and read everything I could. In doing so, I recognized that things like Wicca didn’t appeal to me, and that being in a coven or circle wasn’t always good for my energy. I felt more empowered and aligned with the cosmic energies by doing my craft as a solitary. 

My Library before The Great Purge of 2017.

I am currently in the midst of rebuilding my Witch library, having gifted many of my books in the great purge of 2017, including the first volumes that nudged me along my path, as we readied for a life of nomadic existence. Thankfully, I had my book of shadows throughout the years and those records let me know where I need to refresh my Witchcraft texts. As I rebuild this library, I plan to post reviews of books I read that would appeal to both early and experienced Mystics, Witches, Healers, Lightworkers, Energy Workers, or any of the other names that Witches call themselves. I hope to do the first review here next week. So look for a continuation of this Witches Library discussion to come. 

Slowly but surely rebuilding my Witch Library. As I do, I’ll review the books here.

If you are just beginning on your magical path, may I suggest you meditate and ask Source to guide you to what book(s) would serve you best and allow you to be your truest self and live your best life. You could also just go into a book store and head over to their spirituality shelf and find something that makes you pick it up. 

Like many Witches having a library, a garden, and some familiars makes life super magical. And they all seem to go hand in hand, like a Triple Goddess Venn Diagram. What books did you start with on your path? What books are you looking for? Where is your favorite place to read? Do this Writing Witch a solid and tell me what book has informed your path and clarified things for you. If you, like me, had to sell all your books, which ones would you keep? If you’re re-building a library, like me, which ones are must haves? Let’s talk books, Witches. 

You Do You, Witch

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The Doing-It-Wrong Culture

& The Craft

Instagram, TikTok, and the like have been a great way to stay in touch with your community throughout this Coronovirus Global Pandemic. If you’re like me, it’s allowed you to expand and strengthen your community and relationships. But, you must remember it’s full of haters and dictators, too. That said, as mentioned before, it’s also full of love and teachers. You have to decide which one you are and if you’ll make space for the other.

For every post where practioners of the Craft say “you’re doing it wrong” there’s at least one if not more with, “here’s what I do, maybe it’ll work for you, too” post. I tend to be attracted to the latter and try my best to model it as well. The former however seems counter to all that Witchcraft offers those on its path.

That said, we all get in a mood sometimes and it’s easy to hit that button and bomb a missive into the ether of the Internet. So perhaps we need to ask ourselves – this is something I tried to get teach my children: T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak (or post, as the case may be).

This poster hung in our home while our kids were still living with us. It’s a great guide for social media posts, too.

Let’s look closely at those parameters again:

T – is it True?

H – is it Helpful?

I – is it Inspiring?

N – is it Necessary?

K – is it Kind?

If what you’re about to put out into the world as a constructive criticism is a knee jerk, maybe take a breath and run it through a filter. And I don’t mean the Moon filter, but rather, check whether it supports the T.H.I.N.K. frame work. Because otherwise, edicts of  “you’re doing it wrong” will fall flat and maybe even get you your own cancel hashtag.

In regards to being a witch and practicing, I believe, and most witches I know do as well, that inclusion is the key to determining if you’re walking a legit path. Do we want to exclude hate and oppression? You betcha! Do we want to include as many people into the world of magical practice? Without a doubt! Prostelyzing is not a core tenet of Witchcraft, which in itself may open the door to these Negative Nancies. But how we leverage inclusivity is just as important as not being exclusive in our creeds.  Ranting “you’re doing it wrong, you need to do it like me!” isn’t very inclusive. Refer back to T.H.I.N.K.

Honestly, if someone is doing something that you don’t find authentic, walk away. The Universe will teach that person in due time. And we all started somewhere. As someone who has spent most of her life in the broom closet, huzzah for photos of Tarot spreads, tiktok quick spells for the New Moon, and notifications of the Cosmic Weather. How wonderful that people can be so open with their Craft. Unless someone is being hurt physically, emotionally, mentally, or financially, calling out someone who practices the Craft differently than you do amounts to being a bully, mean girl, and a general judgie mcjudgy pants.

Witches have been judged for too long. Acceptance, leading by example, and minding our own path seems way more like being a Witch, than what the stereotypes would have anyone believe. Don’t understand why someone is practicing a certain way? How about opening up a dialogue and ask questions. Your questions and their answers may teach both of you something.

Here’s hoping teaching with love takes the lead.