If you’re fortunate enough to be wandering around a medieval church or castle in Ireland or the UK, gazing at the many carvings adoring the arches or cornices, you might see a hideous face grinning at you from between the saints. If you look closer, you might see that the face belongs to a hag—or what looks like a hag, because honestly it’s hard to tell her gender by her face. But the fact that she’s female becomes clear very quickly when you move closer and see that she’s naked, squatting, and exposing her vulva to the world—often even holding it open so you canRead More →

  While traveling in Scotland a few years ago, I met two lovely Australians, Linda and Evgenia, and we bonded over the fact that we’d all noticed that Scotland seemed to have a disproportionate number of signs that essentially said, “You’re going to die!” Evgenia commented on this when she saw one with an alarming image of a car about to topple into the waves at the Lochaline ferry dock, and we’ve been collecting alarming sign photos ever since. Over the years our collection criteria have expanded to include signs that are just funny, too. This gallery includes some of the highlights of my “sign seeing.” Read More →

Recently I was asked about ways for women to build a relationship with the Wiccan God. Many Women often naturally gravitate toward the Goddess, but the God can be more of a mystery. Before I dive into my answer, please bear in mind that no Wiccan perceives the gods the same way, and other Wiccans would answer this question differently. Ultimately, how you interact with the God and Goddess will be determined by the relationship you build with them on your own. I know that sounds contrary; how can you build a relationship with a being you don’t know much about? Ours is an experientialRead More →

Cornwall, in the southwest of England, is steeped in magic and folk traditions, from the Padstow ‘obby ‘oss to the ways of the cunning folk and pellars. Tucked into a cleft in the rugged northern Cornish coastline, the small village of Boscastle hums with this old magic. “You can drive into Boscastle and feel the magic. You don’t have to understand these things to feel it,” says the host of this video.* And if you feel that magical current, you’ll notice its gentle tug pulls you down the very steep road, through the village to the sea. And, fittingly, to the Museum of Witchcraft andRead More →

A couple of years ago I wandered down an old, narrow street in Kilkenny City, Ireland and saw a pub sign featuring an arched-back, black “Halloween” cat. Naturally that tripped my witchy senses, so I went up for a closer look, and saw that “Kyteler’s” was the name on the sign. “No freaking way!” I said to myself, excited, because that could only mean this was the pub formerly owned by Dame Alice Kyteler, and I’d just found it completely by accident. My inner history nerd was doing cartwheels. Dame Alice became famous—or infamous—in 1324 for being the first person recorded as being accused ofRead More →

There’s a great pagan song by Catherine Madsen called “The Heretic Heart,” part of which of which goes:  Though law, scripture, priest, and prayer Have all instructed me, My skin, my bones, my heretic heart are my authority. Many people come to Wicca looking for the kind of self-knowledge, empowerment, and freedom within their spirituality that “The Heretic Heart” speaks of. But once they’re inspired to explore Wicca, where do they begin? Often they start with books, as I did. But when I began studying Wicca—you know, back in the dark ages—there weren’t nearly as many books available as there are now. I was gratefulRead More →

The energy, power, force of will, juju, positive thinking, or whatever you want to call the force that makes magic work is neither good nor bad. It’s like electricity—it can be used in ways that are good, bad, or somewhere in between. Anyone can do magic. You don’t have to be practicing any religion—including Wicca—to succeed. In the past, people used the term “black magic” for when someone uses that power or force for selfish or evil purposes and/or intends to cause harm with it. Wiccans think of this as malefic magic or evil magic. The Wiccan Rede Despite what Hollywood and the Holy RollersRead More →

Amongst Wiccans and Witches, a book of shadows—often referred to as a BOS—is usually a collection of texts used in rituals, such as ritual scripts and stage directions, poetry and songs, spells, invocations, techniques and teachings, recipes, and sometimes ritual notes or journal entries. These items can be bound in an actual book, written into a blank book, stored in three-ring binders, or kept as Word or PDF files. We use the somewhat old-school “Great Green Three-Ringed Binder of the Arte” because it’s easy to rearrange pages and I don’t want to spill candle wax on a tablet. Some people even choose to write theirRead More →

When they become Wiccan, many people take on a magical name—or craft name—and it’s the name other Wiccans in the community will know them by and that they’ll use in Wiccan rituals. Some people take on a name when they first become interested in Wicca. Others wait until they dedicate themselves to the path through a self-dedication ceremony or when they are initiated into a particular Wiccan group. Some Wiccan traditions have special rules for when someone takes a name and what kind of name it can be, and others don’t. Most Wiccans who have magical names only use them in the Wiccan community, and useRead More →

An athame­ is a knife used in Wiccan ritual. The name is usually pronounced “A-thuh-may” or “a-THAW-me,” but there’s ongoing squabbling about the “correct” way to say it, so bringing it at a Wiccan dinner party is a great way to start a lively argument if the conversation has gone stale. Traditionally the athame has a double-edged blade and a black handle—more like a dagger than a hunting or utility knife. However, modern athames are made of a wide variety of materials, and some have only a single-edge blade. The athame is considered a masculine tool and is sometimes used in ritual to represent masculineRead More →