Friday, December 27, 2013

Finding a Mystery in a Well-Known Tale

Sappho and Alcaeus
On a professional writing forum in which I participate, a (romance) author asked the group what type of mystery or suspense we like to include in our stories.

As we all learned in elementary school (and had repeated throughout our formal educations), all stories are propelled by a major conflict and perhaps by a series of lesser ones.  You remember: man v. man, man v. nature, man v. society, man v. himself.

The novel I have already written (Temple of Love -- due for re-release in January 2014), as well as the several that I am planning within the same loose series, are all historical fictions based on Greek mythology and history. They are romances, to be sure; but they are also re-tellings or re-imaginings of famous lives or well-known legends.

For me, this means that the conflicts that propel the stories forward are already built in. In most cases, they are well-known conflicts -- Sappho's tempestuous emotional state and numerous lovers, Helen's love triangle that ignites the Trojan War, Psyche's attempts to prove herself to her immortal mother-in-law.

So, in my case, the conflicts were written 2500 years ago, but the "mysteries" are left to me to sort. Providing understandable motivations, fresh interpretations, and characters that are approachable to modern readers -- those are the mysteries my readers get to unlock.

I'm polishing up Sappho's story now -- Temple of Love (excerpts available behind the link). It will be available again VERY SOON, with a big marketing push to bring it into the public eye. After that, I will be continuing my work on Helen's tale -- Temple of Beauty (more excerpts). Beyond that, I'm not sure who will follow. Psyche? Medusa? Pandora? Ariadne?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Big Things are Happening!

I haven't posted much lately, but that is largely because I have been so incredibly busy for the last few months. HUGE projects are in the works with me, and I'd love to share with you about them.

Liber Qayin -- A New Gospel for Witches

First off, Glaux and I released a book in August called Liber Qayin. It is a channeled work that we received in two sessions. We were told by Tubal Qayin, the Witchfather and deliverer of magic to mortals, that we were to open ourselves up to this work. Then, we each received the words of the Black and White Goddesses. A few days later, I received His message.

Skeptical? I would be, too. I WAS, in fact. I often tread very carefully around folks who claim to be the mouthpiece of the Gods. I tend to be cynical and wonder how much of their own filters are coloring the words. Like a true skeptic, though, I accept that anything is possible.

Reading back over the words that came through Natalie and I, not much seems like a personal agenda of either of ours. Several of the sections challenged both of our perceptions, but ALL of it rings True to us. This is the message of Magic -- and of Love. It is the story of our souls. It is the Genesis of the Craft.

This book is available in print and PDF versions from Asteria Books. (And I want to extend a special thanks to my friend John Birkel for supplying the *gorgeous* cover art!)

The Witches' Key to the Legion: A Guide to Solomonic Sorcery

I have to thank John again for his amazing artwork. He not only created the cover art, but he also illustrated 10 of the spirits described within this work.

The Witches' Key to the Legion is a project that Natalie and I have been working on for a little over a year now. We each work with familiar spirits who hail from within the ranks of the Legion (the spirits that are often collectively called the Goetia). In talking with my familiar, we became increasingly aware of their hatred of spirit abuse as advocated by most of the authors who write about demonic magic. (I've written here before about daemons and the misapprehensions that most people harbor on that topic.)

We were both moved to explore the Legion further -- to discover better ways of working with the spirits listed there and to get a good understanding of who they were. To say that my familiar was enthusiastic in leading us into this research would be an understatement. We (Natalie, my familiar, and I) proceeded to embark on a four-month-long series of talking board sessions in which we discussed each of the 72 spirits, the creation of the Legion, the meanings behind the seals, and the nature of God (and His Adversary). We had now idea how much our worldview would change when we started this project -- or how fierce we would become regarding the treatment of these spirits.

The Witches' Key is about to be released (as soon as I've reviewed the proof) in the next several days. It, too, will be available in paperback and PDF versions. Look for illustrations by John Birkel and Natalie Black as well as alternate sigils for almost all 72 spirits.

Aphrodite's Eyes: A Cowrie Divination System

Some of you will have seen my last blog post in which I share the basics of a divination system which I've been developing over the last year and a half. I posted the basics, and that is certainly enough for interested readers to begin with. However, I am working on writing up a full booklet that will provide some insights into the verses and a few sample readings.

Once it is done it will be available through Asteria Books in (you guessed it) paperback and PDF.

Midian Festival and Event Grounds

On a non-publishing note, my family and a group of close friends have been working like mad to get a new event venue up and running for the 2014 festival season.

Here is the press-release we posted a couple of weeks ago:

Midian, a new festival and event venue located in Lawrence County, Indiana, is currently in preparations to open their gates for their 2014 festival season.

The grounds of Midian cover 21 acres of primitive woodlands in South-Central Indiana. By the time of the venue's first event, scheduled for early/mid June 2014, Midian will feature hot/cold rinse stations, a performance stage, several temporary pavilions, electricity in the main event areas, a bonfire ring, several acres of shaded campsites, and well-maintained restroom facilities.

Midian's owners intend to implement a staged development plan. Such developments will likely include several permanent indoor and outdoor meeting facilities, a fully operational kitchen, a lending library, permanent restroom facilities, and more.

The gates will open to the public in April 2014, with the first event being held June 12-16, 2014.

For more information, or to book your event at Midian, please email


Monday, August 26, 2013

Aphrodite's Eyes -- a cowrie divination system

About a year ago, I started developing a diloggun-esque divination system. It's very Aphrodisian in nature, but I started with the 16 cowrie method found in the African system. Aphrodite has guided this adventure -- giving me the names of eye/mouth pattern and the names of the spreads.

I'm sharing a little here with those who are interested. It's still a little rough, and I work it very intuitively. Use your own intuition to guide you, as well.

Eyes = the smooth, rounded sides of the cowries
Mouths = the open, flatter sides of the cowries

Method -- Gather all 16 into your hands. Whisper to them or kiss them, and then toss them on the floor or onto a mat. Make note of their groupings, mentally marking them in four groups of four. Read them generally from left to right and from top to bottom. You will interpret the shells based on the eye/mouth patterns and also based on the "spreads" they form.

The following verses are meant to help you interpret the eye/mouth patterns.

You’re not worthy, and yet you ARE
both earthbound mud and shining star.
Arise and go into the night
to see, to BE the guiding light.

In blood and soil and toil and pain
you’re born into this world again.
From cauldron-womb to mother’s breast,
your journey starts; you cannot rest.

Evening star, the Queen of Heaven,
Passing through the trials, seven.
The Hero or the Fool we are,
rising like the Morning Star.

An ancient and undying Truth:
Each age conceals an inner youth.
Remaining young is not an art.
Hold your youth within your heart.

All roads, all days, all songs must end
to sleep, to breathe, begin again.
A treasure’s hid in sorrowful endings:
the promise of a new beginning.

Justice, with her scales and sword,
measures both your deed and word.
Intents and thoughts she does not weigh.
Be careful what you do and say.

Love of mother, love of son.
Love deeply and love everyone.
Love friends and children and your mate.
Love till there is no room for hate.

Sacred Union – hearts and minds,
bodies, lives, and souls entwined –
Bless each one with joy and pleasure.
Such a gift is priceless treasure.

Safe within a an earthen shield,
unruly seas to harbors yield.
Anchored firmly in this calm
your bark escapes the threat of harm.

Blest accord, cooperation.
No thought of ire or base frustration.
Heads and hearts in loving ease.
Home and self have found some peace.

Dove of Peace, we draw you near.
Take from us both pain and fear,
leaving only your sweet love
to live in peace, O Gentle Dove.

Open waters, clear and bright,
Sky-kissed ocean brings delight.
Dark below, as any tomb.
Mother Ocean, life’s great womb.

Sacrament of love divine,
bliss-filled bodies intertwined.
In best of cases, spirits mesh
while taking joy in earthly flesh.

Silver speech and golden belt
can cause the Will of Man to melt.
Hold convictions, tight and true,
or watch them charmed away from you.

Pleasure, joy, and untamed bliss,
delight and humor, marked by this.
Bubbling font from Spirit’s well.
Laughter in your Soul does dwell.

No light or slim reflection cast.
The door is sealed shut, firm and fast.
Within the blackest pitch of night,
Embrace the Dark and mourn the Light.

The following SPREADS are very loosely based on (or rather, inspired by) geomancy.

A couple of notes to help understand the spreads:

1. The spreads are obviously set up in pairs of opposites. I'm not sure why, but that's how it worked out. 

2. Joy and Sorrow are both meant to represent doves -- one soaring, one falling. 

3. Gain and Loss are scales.

4. Fate is a horseshoe. Freewill is an overturned bowl or cup.

An example, then, of a reading might go as follows:


From left to right, I would interpret this casting as:

Path -- Sea
Fate -- Queen of Heaven
Female -- Peace
War -- Endings

So, what is all this saying to me? Well, ... ha! One of you lovely readers is getting a reading, but I have no idea who. You are new to the blog, and new to this path, I think. You have felt a calling to the Sea -- perhaps water witchery, in general. But it hasn't occurred to you until now that perhaps Aphrodite (or Astarte or Inanna) has a direct hand in YOUR life. She does, sweetie. You, my lovely lady, have had trouble finding peace with your femininity and with the Divine Feminine in general; but that conflict is about to to come to a close. The sooner you stop fighting yourself, the sooner you will find peace and make the progress you have been hoping for. You're going to shine, sister!

Alrighty, well. Thus concludes the free and easy version. I will continue to work on writing everything up in a way to help folks understand, and I will eventually publish that in a nifty little book (paperback and ebook, I am sure). In the meantime, get yourself some cowries and practice, if this speaks to you. You know what I know, at this point!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vinalia Rustica 2013

(Not my photo. Looked like this, though!)
The wildflowers waved sunnily at us from their shaded paths as we carefully picked our way into the woods.

Vinalia Rustica has been one of my favorite of all the Aphrodite festivals for the last several years -- made spacial in large part because I had a shrine that I helped tend on a special piece of land. I've shared those photos (and my love for that place) here over the course of those years. Politics and pain have collided, though, in such a way that I doubt I'll ever that land again in the waking world, and I have left Aphrodite's Shrine there in her own care -- trusting that others will step forward to tend Her.

I had honestly forgotten that today was Vinalia Rustica. I don't have a shrine or a temple to tend for her right now, and it's a sore spot for me. I'm remedying that absence as soon as I am able, and I have plans for a glorious temple in her honor.

So, I wasn't thinking about that when I went with my coven sisters to a place that is about to become special to us. It is a wild place, a free place. It is a place where Indiana limestone and brown-eyed Susans speak clearly. A place where Artemis runs and Pan dances. It is a place where Aphrodite laughs, and her voice echoes off the cliffside!Sirens sing there, along the banks of the cool, deep stream.

There is no temple but the cliff. No shrine but the rocks and groves of walnut and sycamore trees. No offerings but the wildflowers.

And it is PERFECT!

It was the perfect place to honor Aphrodite, and it was the perfect way (in wildness and freedom and celebration with my sisters).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Little Demon

I have just recently started talking with folks about the fact that I "meddle with the Goetia." It seems and* daemonic sorceress? Sure! Why not?
this is surprising information for folks -- even for people who know me fairly well. Priestess of Aphrodite *

Natalie and I have both written about familiars, especially spirit (non-coropreal) familiars. As I wrote in one of those posts:

The word "angel" comes from the Greek ἄγγελος pronounced "angelos", which means messenger. "Demon" also comes from the Greek --  δαίμων pronounced daímōn, meaning nothing more or less than "spirit."  Neither was inherently benevolent, nor was the other malevolent. Can they be? Sure. I bet you can be nasty, too.

I went on to say that we feel that spirit conjuration (what can rightly be called "demonic conjuration") is a long-standing practice in the sort of sorcerous witchcraft that is practiced by people like us. Check out the American Folkloric Witchcraft blog for a better idea of the Craft we practice.

So, here we are, contacting helpful spirits through our talking board, and specifically getting in touch with the spirits who want to work with us. In a session by myself, I first spoke to the spirit I simply call "S." I learn right away that she is a spirit of the Goetia. I learn relatively soon that this spirit had been with me as a teenager as my beloved cat. I piece together that the spirit I had seen in my living room (and the black ghost cat my entire family and some roommates have seen) is also her. And I learn in the last month or so that she is included in Dee & Kelley's Enochian (angelic magick) tablets as one of the "Daughters of the Daughters of Light" -- listed there simply as S.

She's been with me since I was 17, and I have felt her presence for a very long time. She has taught me so much about Spirit (and about daemons, specifically). She has been a partner to Natalie and I as we undertook a hefty writing project -- The Witches' Key: The Sorcery of Solomonic Magick. This book is "the Goetia on the Goetia." (I'm working on formatting it now, and Natalie is working on illustrations. I'd like to have it done by the end of the summer, but that might be a stretch. Let's say: done by Samhain.)

I'd love to write and talk more about spirits here, for those who are interested. Expect a post or two on the topic as I continue working on this project.

We are fleshy spirits. Spiritual beings having a human experience.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Magical Herbalism Workshops by Laurelei and/or Natalie

I just added a slew of workshops to my Presentation Catalog, all related to the witch-y side of
Ferula Asfoetida
herbalism. In all cases, Natalie and I can present these classes together or separately. Just give us a shout if you want something awesome and herbal at your event.

The Way of the Woodwose -- The Path of Magical Herbalism
Plants offer so much to humanity -- food, shelter, spice, medicine, clothing, and more. Each of these is magical in itself; however, plants offer something beyond the physical experience, too. They give us a key into the realms of mysticism and magic that are the domain of religion and spirituality. Join Laurelei and Natalie for this introduction to magical herbalism and discuss the many ways in which herbs can transform your inner reality.

Incense Blending

 Sacred smoke is one of the quintessential elements of magical and mystical practice. Witches, magicians, seers, monks, and holy people of every religion have used smoke and fume as a method of sending their prayers to the heavens and of gaining inspiration from beyond the veil of the visinble world. In this hands-on workshop, Laurelei and Natalie will discuss the 5 basic ingredients of an excellent incense and then get our hands dirty by making some for a practical application. Everyone will come away from this class with a sample of loose blended incense and copious notes on how to make the best blends for their future needs.

Flying Ointment and Sabbat Wine

 Learn the art of herbal astral travel. Come and discuss with us the historical ways in which the Witches of old flew to the Sabbat at the Mountain, leaving their bodies safe at home -- or how they went out into the night as hares. Laurelei and Natalie will discuss the theory and history behind the very toxic plant poisons used in the past and also explore some safe (but effective) non-toxic alternatives for modern spirit flight.

Vision Brews

 Certain plants are (in)famous for their vision-inducing abilities -- as well as their deadly side effects. Chat with Laurelei and Natalie about the visionary poisons of old, and then we'll all explore several safe and strong herbs that pack a punch for opening psychic ability and developing seership.

Abramelin and the Formulas of High Magick

Ceremonial Magick concerns itself with alchemy on a number of levels. Transformation happens both within the magician and without. The working of Abramelin the Mage is one of the most famous workings of ceremonial magick, and the oil formula that is created from it is highly prized by magicians. Join Laurelei and Natalie as we explain the preparation of this oil and discuss its history and use in other magical formulations.

Traditional Oils and Waters of the American Folk Magic

 Fiery Wall of Protection, Florida Water, Hungary water, Black Cat Oil, Angel Water -- You'll come away from this workshop with your own formulary of potions used in American folk magic. Some are from Hoodoo, some from European folklore, others from the hills of the Ozarks and Appalachia. We'll discuss their uses, how to personalize and prepare them, and we'll even make one so that everyone comes away with a sample.

Gris-Gris, Paquettes, Putzi, and Pouches -- Bundles of Herbal Magic
The magical spell bag, by any other name, would still smell as .... Well, it would smell like magic, and that's the important thing. Magical practitioners of all sorts, on every continent where people live, have put potent items of a like nature together in a bundle to achieve a goal for its bearer. Protection, love, health, sleep, luck. After a thorough discussion on the sorts of dirts, herbs, and other objects usually included in these bundles, Natalie and Laurelei will provide bags to participants and let them choose from available materials to make their own pouches.

The Alraun -- A Plant Familiar

 Everyone knows the image of a Witch with a black cat familiar. But how many are aware of the wise woman with her mandrake spirit? The alraun is a carefully tended plant that acts as a spirit guide. Is it the spirit of the plant who offers wisdom and guidance? Or a spirit who inhabits the plant? Join Natalie and Laurelei in this discussion on the history and practical creation & tending of the alraun.