2021 Crooked Treehouse Shop Update!

Hello from the Treehouse!

First of all, Jac and I would like to send you all a hearty thank you for sticking with us through a tough year. I know a lot of you have been wondering how we’re doing, how our plans are going, and how the future looks for the Treehouse, so here’s a long anticipated update.

Well, the big thing is we all made it through 2020. 😉

We are fortunate enough that none of us have gotten sick – knock on wood and all that – and even though we did close the physical store for a couple of months we’re still here and happily open again. We are still observing safety protocols. Since our store is tiny, we ask that no more than 2 people or 1 family unit come in at a time, and that everyone wears masks. We’re almost to the vaccination point, so lets keep staying safe!

We have had some inventory hiccups thanks to COVID, but not too terrible. We are running low on some crystals since we haven’t been able to make it to all of our usual crystal shows, but we should make it to another one within the next couple of months.

How about our plans for the shop itself? Weren’t we talking about expanding?

I imagine it surprises no one that the last year delayed those plans. However, the plans are not scrapped. We still have a friend hoping to buy the building, with the understanding that if he does the Treehouse will double in size as part of the building renovations. Pretty cool, hmm? Both rooms at the front of the building would become the shop.

In the short term, we’re working on a new sign to hang over the front door. Two years of rain and humidity have not been kind to the big shop sign!

We’re also working on a major online shop update. Instead of it having everything we might possibly carry, we’re going to focus it on our special products and things we know we can get to you right away. It does not make sense for our website to be everything to everyone – we want to focus on what makes the Treehouse special.

Coming up, our first event of 2021 looks like it will be a Beltane event in Reidsville. It’s a first year event and we’re so excited! She’s got awesome things planned, so you should come check it out.

Oh! And Jac and I are both working on designing our own tarot decks! How cool is that??? It’s been a dream project, and really fun as we’ve been sharing our card interpretations with each other. It’s been a great learning experience and artistic push, and we’re only about a month in to working on it. So stay tuned!

As we get serious about planning the year ahead, please feel free to let us know how we can help you! Any products you are looking for or things you would like to learn?

Jac Reviews: Tarot of Loka

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The court cards in Loka. Cavalier, Jack, Queen and King.

Thank you for joining us for another of Jac’s reviews! We know it’s been a while, but thank you for sticking with us through 2020.

Here I am going to talk about a deck that is unlike the others we have looked at. The Tarot of Loka, from Ralph Horseley and Alessio Cavatore. This is a card game based on the classic decks we’re all familiar with and designed for playing in mind. It draws its origin from a time before the popular designs of Pamala Smith and looks to her inspiration, the Marseille deck. While these cards can be used for readings it’s important to remember that you can enjoy these as the entertainment they’ve always represented.

Loka is a trick taking game that is designed for four players; two people for each team. Players go around the table placing cards and the highest value card takes all the lower, gaining points for their respective teams. The Major Arcana are the most powerful “suit” and you gain more points for collecting specific cards.

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The artwork is imaginative and whimsical in its euro fantasy style. Replacing the traditional suits with the four elements makes the deck feel right in any medieval themed amusements. The Pages and Knights have transformed into Jacks and Cavaliers to more easily relate to playing cards. However in changing the deck to be approachable, to people interested in the game, the Minor Arcana have been reduced to their pips!

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Produced by Lo Scarabeo, the instruction manual is multilingual which allows everyone to learn this wonderful game! The cards have a smooth matte finish that makes them easy to slide across the table while dealing. They are also of a moderate thickness that makes them easy to shuffle but not leave you concerned that they will be torn by children who want to learn the game.

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The Tarot of Loka is a great deck to introduce people to the idea of tarot without being intimidating. Too many folks have been taught to be nervous around tarot, never exploring the cards and the variety of ways to enjoy them. It’s also a good way to find new joy in what you may think is a tool only meant for divinations. Everyone can come together and learn to have fun and grow a new appreciation for a game that has its root in centuries of history!

Like the look of this deck and want to try it for yourself? Click the links below to purchase!

Tarot of Loka

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Tarot of Loka

Staying At Home: My Witchy Spaces

So, are you embracing or hating your home witchy space? Are you wishing that you had one?

Well, come on inside my doors for a glimpse at where I am spending a lot of time with the store currently, depressingly closed. I don’t usually share a lot of personal stuff, but it felt appropriate right now. We’re all missing personal connections.

So here goes: I am both loving and hating my space. I moved in December, and I did not manage to get my future special witchy space built out before the pandemic came to our attention. But I am trying to embrace the space I have as-is and do what I can until things can once again move forward.

Not that I am being great about it. I pretty much ignored the full moon this week. It’s hard to focus on much for long. And I still don’t feel “settled in” here. And I miss all of you guys! The Treehouse has an awesome little community around it, and I’m thinking about all of you.

I miss all of you guys, so come and visit me virtually for this little tour!

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Okay, let’s start outside instead. I managed to get my new herb garden started before the stay at home orders came in, and maintaining it has been one of my fresh air activities. Counterclockwise from the center: rosemary, oregano, lavender, parsley, basil, red basil, thyme, lemon balm, garden sage, peppermint, spearmint, and catnip.

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I’m spending a lot of time sitting here, working on the website or accounting. Bleh! Plus, look at that stack of books waiting for reviews or reading…

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My window-side altar chest. The wood chest was where I started keeping my witchy things when I first started, but nowadays I feel comfortable having the altar regularly set up. Some of the things you can see: my statue of Hestia, a pin with my favorite tarot card (ace of cups), a candle stick with wheat stalks I found at a thrift store, a small antler wand that was a gift from a friend, and a dragon egg that was gifted to me at Dragon Con two years ago.

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Even though this is not the room I plan to always have for my witchy space, since I’m stuck at home I was randomly annoyed that I had not hung my art. So I hung my triple goddess wall shrine yesterday!

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I collect vintage witches and Halloween things in general. So here’s my classic Halloween shelf!

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Not everything is displayed for pretty – some of it just needs a space to be stored. So, here’s my miscellaneous candles, my tarot deck collection, and my drawing and journaling supplies. Not that I am at all good at keeping up journaling.

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“What do you mean I’m not supposed to be in here?” Meet Dante, who we met as a bedraggled kitten that approached Jac in the rain outside the shop one night. He is very good at sounding pathetic. But it got him a new home! He makes me smile when I need it these days.

So, how are you all faring? Tell me about your witchy spaces, and where you feel comfortable at home!

Copy of Tarot Art Nouveau

Jac Reviews: Tarot Art Nouveau

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The Devil and the Two of Cups, some of the more interesting cards of Tarot Art Nouveau

Thank you for joining us for another of Jac’s reviews!

Today I’m reviewing the Tarot Art Nouveau, illustrated by Antonella Castelli. She was able to draw inspiration from the classic design of tarot to develop a flow of color that washes throughout her images. She keeps the focus primarily on human figure and their emotions in this deck.

I’m struck by the soft coloring contrasted with bold outlines to create a feel of watercolor that bleeds through every picture. Some of them are difficult to draw meaning from, however, even if you are familiar with tarot. While many reflect their inspiration from the classic design, others are too ambiguous to attach a clear explanation.

The Devil and the Two of Cups, for example, are clearly new creative visions of the cards. Far removed from Smith’s symbolism, these images still express the intent of tarot schema upon which concepts are built. The Devil looks devious, yet alluring, and the 2 of Cups shows a deeply close relationship.

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The Five of Pentacles, Ten of Pentacles, and Five of Chalices focus more on pretty figures than their meanings.

In contrast, however, we have the Five of Chalices and Coins along with the Ten of Coins. Fives normally express hardship and loss in their extremes, where these women seem a bit downcast there’s nothing to suggest pain or despair. The joy and fulfillment of success is absent from the 10 of Cups, as well. She looks rather blasé instead of even expressing subtle emotions, like pride or contentment.

It is a Lo Scarabeo deck. These offer a multilingual review of the card meanings and a basic layout for readings in its manual. Additionally, every card has its name written in the corners so many people can use them. While all tarot readings should have a variety of interpretations, I’m amused by the more literal approach. The small booklet itself also provides a generally adequate explanation of what each card represents.

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Backs of the Mini and standard decks

The full size deck and the mini deck both have a gloss finish which makes them slick to slide well across themselves for swirl shuffling. The card stock is comfortably thick, so I don’t feel as though I’m damaging them with every use. The back of the standard size deck has a bilateral image of The Fool, while the mini has a unilateral framing of Justice. The color seems a gentle wash in its larger form, rather than bold splashing in miniature.

The Art Nouveau style has always clashed with industrial design in favor of a organically inspired creation. The lines curve and flow, often blending nature and humanity. Within this deck you can feel the style held constantly. It does seem like the focus was more about illustrate a beautiful form over being able to express meaning behind the deck. Regardless, I don’t find it to detract from the cards usability and it’s a deck I have made great use of.

Like the look of this deck and want to try it for yourself? Click the links below to purchase!

Tarot Art Nouveau

Tarot Art Nouveau Mini

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Tarot Art Nouveau

Stay At Home Herbalism: Dandelions

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Collecting some early dandelion heads to enjoy their beautiful yellow color.

Since so many of us are staying in our homes right now, I thought I might turn some of our focus to magic that can be found right near by. Chances are, if you have any yard at all, at this time of year, you have dandelions! Hated by some as weeds, popping up their cheerful yellow blossoms as a sign of Spring, and loved by kids blowing or kicking at the seed heads, there is tons of folklore around these common plants.

Dandelions are a remarkably resilient and adaptable plant, a quality we could all embrace. The bright yellow flowers are also associated with solar energy and vitality. As they appear in Spring, they are a great symbol for beginnings and creative energy. They are reminders of joy and whimsy.

Here’s a little fun folklore for you: the tallest dandelion flower a child found in the Spring was supposed to show how much taller they would grow that year! Or, hold the golden flower under a child’s chin: a golden glow indicates how rich they will someday be.

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Some see a weed – I see my childhood wishes!

Most magic and folklore surrounding dandelions is focused on their wonderful puff ball seed heads. For example:

  • The simple childhood game: blow on the seeds and make a wish!
  • Count the remaining seeds after you blow on them. The number left is how many more years you will live.
  • To tell the time, blow on the seeds three times. The number left is the hour.
  • To send a message to someone you love, picture your message while you blow the seeds in their direction.
  • When you blow on seeds to make a wish, and left behind means good luck.

Dandelion roots have been used in teas to promote psychic abilities. Dandelion leaves make a good addition to a Beltane meal. You can also make dandelion wine. In fact, there are lots of ways to eat dandelion! I haven’t tried any myself, but I would love to hear your experiences with dandelion recipes.

Know any more fun dandelion folklore or good recipes? Let us know in the comments!

Sources: The Hearth Witch’s Compendium by Anna Franklin, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham.

Dandelion is one of the herbs available in our downloadable herbal magic pages!

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Embracing the Fool

Well, I started to write this up for Tarot Tuesday, got distracted and now it’s Wednesday… but it is also April Fool’s Day, so this still works, right?

For a little change of pace, I thought you all might enjoy a dive into a single tarot card. And we might as well start with the very beginning, card 0 of your Rider-Waite inspired tarot deck, The Fool!

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The Fool, as seen in the Rider Waite deck.

There are plenty of reasons to start with The Fool, aside from just his position as card 0 of the Major Arcana. If one is to look at the cards as a story, then The Fool is who we follow through it. He is young, naive, and about to step out on a journey into the unknown. The journey could bring him to wonders, or he may lose his footing and stumble, but right now at the beginning he does not care. He is moving forward, and that is what matters.

Let’s take a moment and look at just the image. A young man in a jaunty cap is off on a journey, his bag on a stick over his shoulder, and a rose in his hand. The sun is at his back, and he looks up, not noticing (or caring?) that he is about to step off a cliff. A small dog is at his heels, either a companion or about to warn him if he steps too far.

The Fool is a symbol of naive beginnings. Naivete is not in itself a bad thing. Being naive means going into new things without preconceived notions, which can allow us to see everything as wondrous and new. But there is always a balance to be struck between experiencing new things and being foolhardy about it. So go ahead – try something new! Do something you have never done before! But don’t have your head so far in the clouds that you don’t see the cliff in front of you. Pay attention to what’s around you and you’ll receive warnings when you need them most.

The Fool has no pretensions. The Fool does not know, and thus is open to knowledge. The Fool shows innocence and reminds us to embrace our inner child. The Fool reminds us to not overplan, not overthink, but to go with our impulses and do something new.

Now, a little fun: I delved into my collection and photographed all the Fools I could. Jac and I were having a conversation recently about how different decks interpret the same images, and I think these show that well. I have found in general, the farther the imagery deviates, the more the author has their own unique interpretation as well.

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The Fool in The Enchanted Tarot stays pretty close to the Rider imagery. This was my first deck!

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Now for something completely different, the Klimt Tarot has a much less joyful image.

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The Gummy Bear Tarot sticks with its roots, simplified.

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The Ancestral Path Tarot instead puts the reader, the seeker, as The Fool.

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Imagery in the Thoth Tarot is its own rich tradition, and one I may delve into another time.

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Another silly deck, this one came from Spirit Halloween! Alas, as these were “novelty only,” they come with no interpretations.

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My Spanish is terrible, but I still love this deck from the Mage the Ascension (roleplaying game) 20th Anniversary, Spanish Kickstarter. The Fool’s “dog” clings to his leg and he still has a rose, but now he has a sword instead of his bag on a stick. And I love his fashion sense!

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Well, I did say The Fool was a card of beginnings, so here’s the Egg in Food Fortunes

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Another less happy image, The Fool in the Dark Grimoire Tarot isn’t going anywhere, except into his own madness.

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This Color Your Own Tarot from Echo Chernix was a Kickstarter deck and given to me as a gift. Somehow when I started coloring I started at 1 and missed The Fool! Artist’s own style of standard imagery here.

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The Byzantine Tarot – I love this one for its religious icon inspired art. The Fool has lost a lot of his trappings, but going naked into the world still fits.

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Replace cliffs with rooftops and you have The Fool from the Steampunk Tarot!

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The Halloween Tarot nicely blends its own imagery with the standard Rider imagery for this clown Fool.

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The Vertigo Tarot is very much a showcase of the artist, but if you look closely you can still spot some of the standard trappings of The Fool.

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Well, apparently The Fool in the Osho Zen Tarot really doesn’t care about that cliff! Interestingly, this in one of very few cards in this deck that seems to stay close to Rider images.

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We’re just taking the Rider Waite symbolism and making it cute for The Manga Tarot.

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The Mystic Faerie Tarot is a very popular deck it seems, but The Fool doesn’t really do much for me. He just looks like another fairy.

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Ah, Dali Tarot Universal. If we could understand the imagery easily, it wouldn’t be Dali. But a lot of details worth going into here!

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The Celtic Dragon Tarot certainly has a young man starting out on a journey, but here instead danger appears to lurk unseen behind him and his path is solid.

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The Starman Tarot uses The Sacred Clown in place of The Fool, and for this deck I really like that change. They are still clearly the one we experience the Tarot through.

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The Ostara Tarot does not go with the typical images, but the young witch with red knees flying off into the unknown still captures the mood well.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite fool? Let us know in the comments!

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Embracing the Fool

Gummy Bear Tarot: A Tarot Tuesday Deck Review

IMG_20200324_175851-01Considering the week we’ve all had, I decided to go lighthearted with this week’s “Tarot Tuesday.” So I turned to my collection and pulled out this old gem: Gummy Bear Tarot.

Gummy Bear Tarot is by Diermar Bittrich and was published by US Games Systems in 2005. And it has been sitting on my shelf for nearly that long. It was an early silly present from my delightful husband – and a solid example of the sense of humor in our house. Aside from taking it out to play around with a time or two, I had never used it for a reading before today.

So, on to the aesthetics first!

Gummy Bear Tarot is a smaller than standard tarot deck, close to playing card in size. This is actually really comfy in the hand for shuffling. It comes in a metal tin with an instruction booklet, making it a really nice deck for carrying with you as long as you don’t mind the silliness of gummy bears!

IMG_20200324_175906-01The images themselves are actually very simplified Rider Waite Smith imagery, replacing the main figures with stylized gummy bears. But it is not over simplified. While the more esoteric and symbolic imagery has been removed, the core needed to recognize and interpret the cards is still there. This does make this harder for a more intuitive reading – there is less on each card for the intuition to run off of, so I find myself mostly relying on what I have memorized of the cards from reading other decks.

That said, I almost did myself a disservice by not looking in the little white instruction book. The instruction book is actually thicker than others of its types, and it includes more information per card than I was expecting. I like that instead of the usual upright and reversed combination, this deck assigns each card a “strength” and “weakness.” I have not read through all of the meanings, but none of them jump out as glaringly off.

Overall, this deck is silly and cute… but if you actually do readings with it, and get past the silly, it has surprising depth.

Now, a sample reading!

I was thinking about various business concerns and choices when I laid out this spread.

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Current Situation: Two of Pentacles: A bear stands on a beach, juggling two coins. This is a time for balance and trust. Trust that you can keep things balanced and moving. But make sure you aren’t just juggling out of habit or inability to commit. Let go of what you don’t need to balance.

Immediate Past: Eight of Cups: A bear sets off bravely into the world. There is a readiness to leave the old behind. Your horizons are broadening and you’ve found inspiration in spirituality. Make sure when moving forward it’s not to run away from what’s, or who’s, behind you. This is an experience of the unknown.

Immediate Future: Seven of Cups: A bear has a vision of wealth, power, and safety. The unconscious is full of strong, vital forces, energies we can use to achieve our dreams. An internal awakening is coming. But be cautious of being lost in dreams. Stay grounded. Concentrate on one goal.

Foundation Energy: Three of Wands: A bear looks over the horizon as he contemplates a coming journey. This card shows enthusiasm, creativity, and new ideas – certainly the energy behind many independent businesses. But beware grand plans and hectic activity that results in going nowhere.

Best Outcome: Ace of Pentacles: A hand holds a coin over a rose garden. This is a beginning of a time of growth. Have patience and trust in friends and you will be rewarded. But in order to keep things growing you must not give in to melancholy or set your sights too high. The time is coming to recognize your chance and seize it.

So, hope you liked my little foray into the Gummy Bear Tarot!

To help us keep doing these reviews, please consider buying this deck or others through our Amazon link or our web store, or share the image below and this review on Pinterest!

Gummy Bear Tarot

Why Everyone Loves Amethyst: A Magical Crystal Guide

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We sell it over and over again in our tiny witchy shop. We are drawn to it when it is time to make something with crystals. Whether it’s the beautiful purple colors or the magical and healing properties, we love Amethyst!

So, let’s take a look at this wonderful and beautiful crystal.

Geological Properties

Amethyst is a common form of quartz found throughout the world. Its color ranges from deep purple to pale violet. The most common medium purple colored amethyst comes from Brazil. Manganese in quartz creates amethyst, and varying amounts of iron create the color variations.

Metaphysical Properties

Amethyst is an extremely powerful and protective stone. It helps protect against psychic attack. The energy of the attack is transformed into positive, loving energy.

Amethyst is a calming stone and excellent for the mind. It helps you to relax and become more focused, less scattered. It brings together common sense and spiritual insights to aid in decision making.

Amethyst helps transform lower energies into higher, aiding in spiritual growth and change. It enhances cooperation between the physical, mental, an spiritual self.

Amethyst helps you center by smoothing out highs and lows. It dispels anger, fear, anxiety, and helps you cope with loss. It aids in stability and peace.

Sleeping with amethyst helps open the third eye and brings psychic dreams. It has been used to aid with insomnia.

Historically, amethyst has been used to encourage sobriety.

Varieties of Amethyst

Chevron Amethyst – My personal favorite, this amethyst has distinctive pale chevron banding. It is an excellent stone for cleansing and examining the aura, and for evaluating and understanding the self.

Violet-Lavender Amethyst – Has particularly high vibrations. “Flower” style crystal formations bring light and love.

Pineapple Amethyst – Amethyst cluster with small nodules at the base of the points. Connects you with mythic realms and stimulates the imagination.

Want to add amethyst to your crystal collection? Here are some choices from our online store:

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Amethyst Points, $4 each in our web store

 

 

Sources:

The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall

Love Is In the Earth, A Kaleidoscope of Crystals by Melody

Amethyst

 

 

 

 

 

Our Shop and Covid-19

Thank you first of all to all of you who support our tiny hole-in-the-wall witchy shop! With everything going on with the current pandemic, I just wanted to update you on what this means for our physical shop, and what our plans are.

  • We are still open. As much as we might wish it was otherwise, the Boulevard has very little foot traffic in good times. We just about never hit a capacity that falls under current guidelines. If you come to the store, it will most likely be just you and one of us who runs the store.
  • We are doing extra cleaning. We will occasionally be closing early for our physical and mental health as well, but most days we will be open until at least 6pm.
  • We can bring your purchase to your car. Don’t want to come in? Pull up front and give us a wave and we’ll be happy to help!
  • We can deliver locally. Until any “stay at home” order is put in place, we can deliver in Eden, Reidsville, or Reedy Fork. Basically, along my route home. 😉 Feel free to message us on Facebook or send an email to crookedtreehousegifts@gmail.com to arrange this.
  • We can ship straight to you. Our web store is busily being added to, and we’ll ship anywhere.

We started this little shop as a place for local community, and we love all of you who have supported us and shared in that love. We expect coming times to be hard, but as long as we can keep paying our rent we will be keeping our business running, whether it is open for traffic or mailing things out. We’re sticking with this month to month as best we can.

Should a “stay home” order be issued for our state… well, Jac lives upstairs, so we can still ship! And I’ll be doing online support, communication, and blogging from home.

And I do also plan to do a lot of article writing! I know the boredom that can set in when stuck at home, so for those using this time to practice their magical studies I will be writing what I can. Even if you don’t have money to buy from us, reading our blog does help support our shop through our advertisers. So if you have any topics you really want to learn more about, let us know! Or, are you bored and want to write too? Catching up on your witchy reading? Make your own magical items? We would love to include your book or deck reviews, magical DIYs, or just pitch your idea to us! We can not pay for articles, but we will happily include any links to your blog or store.

Finally, just a little note for the health of us all: I have seen a lot of prayers, spells, and wishes for healing the world in the last week, and that is where we shine. I also know many of our readers and visitors are practitioners of or interested in alternative and traditional medicines. While I believe all of this helps us and helps our Earth, please do not ignore modern medicine during this pandemic. We need everyone to take proper measures in order to keep as many of us healthy as possible.

Healing energies to everyone, and stay safe,

Cynthia

Celebrating a Solitary Ostara

The Spring Equinox is here, and for those that are used to celebrating with friends this year it feels strange to be isolated. We were actually originally planning some activities for the store to try and bring the community together. Clearly, we are no longer planning that this year. But whether you are forced to celebrate alone this year, or you’re a solitary witch who usually celebrates the wheel of the year alone, here are some simple things you can still do to celebrate the change of season.

Go Out Into Nature

Enjoy this day where day and night are of equal length. If you can, get outside, away from people to experience the day. Especially if you can experience that transition, the sunrise, and think about the days growing longer as you greet the morning.

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My house kitten, Dante, checking out the fresh flowers I picked up at the grocery store for my Spring altar.

Garden

Even if it’s a container garden, the first day of Spring is a great time to plant something! I have my new herb garden started, so I’ll be taking some time to tend to it. Don’t have the space to garden? People may be hording toilet paper, but there are still flowers and plants at many grocery stores! Bring a little seasonal beauty home with you.

Eggs!

A symbol of the season, and delicious too! Whether it is eggs for breakfast or coloring hard boiled eggs, chances are you already have everything you need at home.

Wear Green

I know we’re only a couple of days from St. Patrick’s Day, but green is also a color of growth. Embrace spring with the color of new leaves!

For all of you stuck at home, looking to do something with your kids, or who just like to color, I’ve made you a little something to help celebrate the season. Click below to download our free coloring page, and enjoy a Happy Equinox and Ostara, however you choose to celebrate!

Free
Click on me to download. Personal, non-commercial use only.

 

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Celebrate a Solitary Ostara