Book Review: The House Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

There’s a lot of information out there, with wonderful new books being published all the time. I wish I had the time to read more often, so things like this review would come out closer to when a new book is published, but I do try to read as much as I can to keep informed, stay inspired, and keep learning.

That said, I actually picked up The House Witch pretty close to when it came out in 2018, but it sat on my shelf for a while before I completed reading it. No fault of the book – just my busy schedule!

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I was drawn to this book immediately, as it is one of very few I have found that resonates closely with my own witchcraft. I have been drawn to goddesses of hearth and home since I was in college. (Go on, ask me how annoyed I get when people get talking about Greek gods and forget Hestia exists…I dare you.) In the home, so much of what we make is magic – the love we share with our family, the foods we create, the medicines we use to heal. If you don’t have a strong basis in the home, how are you then going to have strong footing when you leave? To me, that would feel like building without a foundation.

This book echoed with my feelings wonderfully.

So, on to some more specifics:

First, the physical book itself. Its a wonderful little hardcover, and if you’re someone like me for whom reading is also a tactile experience, it feels great in the hands. The cover nicely captures the feeling and themes of the book as a whole.

I did like the discussion of what is the spiritual heart of the home and advice on finding where yours is. While historically we would typically be talking about the kitchen, this book also talks nicely about finding and blessing whatever your spiritual hearth may be. Then, the combination of the magical imagery and how they correspond to the every day is nicely done.

I was happy to see a nice chapter on hearth dieties, including some I didn’t know and will read more about later. There were some wonderful points about some of the dieties I do know as well, thoughtfully included and with more depth than these gods and goddesses are usually given.

I have not tried the recipes included in here yet, but having read a lot of books that do include spells and recipes I actually want to try some of these.  Food, herbs, crafts, potpourri, spells and rituals, there are a lot of nice step by step, clear instructions for things you might want to try. Plus, these are in a good ratio to the rest of the book –  a couple mixed in where appropriate with information, then several themed chapters at the end, without overwhelming the content you can learn from this book.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to bring magic into their home, or connect the magical and the mundane better together. Though I still can’t quite bring myself to bless my fridge…

Book Review

(Belated) Tarot Tuesday: 2020 Wheel of The Year with Ostara Tarot

If you remember from last year, I like to do a Wheel of the Year tarot spread for myself on the first, Well hold on tight, folks, because this one is rocky!

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The deck I’ve been working with lately is the Ostara Tarot. It was created with the work of four artists, and I find I connect well with the imagry. Plus, this is the first deck I have ever used where the reverals seem to click! My interpretation isn’t always spot on with the book’s, but that is one of the things about practicing tarot – you learn to trust your intuition.

So, here we go, clockwise from the top:

January – Strength – Trust in your inner strength. Things may be challenging, but you have the strength to overcome and succeed.

February – Two of Coins, reversed – You are overburdened, and if you are not careful the stress will overwhelm you. You can’t keep juggling commitments like this – it may be time to look at exactly what you have committed to and make a choice.

March – The Emperor – Strength, stability, and a strong masculine presence. After the stress of February, there is a source of stability you can lean on. There is safety in this card.

April – Two of Swords, reversed – You are no longer teetering on the knife edge, precarious between two forces. But be careful that this in not just that you are so overwhelmed you are blind to the opposing forces at play.

May – Judgement – This is a time of major decision, something that shakes up your life. I can not say whether it is positive or negative, but what came before and what comes after will be very different.

June – The Lovers, reversed – A commitment turned sour, or a failing relationship. This is time to evaluate, and perhaps remember why you entered that commitment in the first place. Evaluate and make sure your inner voice isn’t leading you astray.

July – The World – A completion, and a unified whole of things. Perhaps its a major project reaching a conclusion and bearing fruit, or a phase reaching its inevitable but satisfactory end. As one thing comes to an end, it also opens you up to new beginnings.

August – The Hermit, reversed – Relying on yourself is one thing, but you can take it too far. Remember to lean on and listen to those closest to you.

September – Nine of Cups, reversed – You have accomplished something, and you feel proud of it, but there may be flaws in this success. Don’t be overproud, and watch for unexpected consequences.

October – Page of Wands – A burst of creative inspiration, this card brings the firey energies of creativity and the joy and experience of youth, You are on the verge of a new phase of your life, when you can express that creativity that is just waiting to come out. Enjoy a new passion for life.

November – The Star – Hope is eternal, and you can feel it now.  Rejoice in your spirit and reach for your dreams. Its been a hard year but you have come through it all the stronger. Rise again and remember that your dreams matter.

December – Eight of Cups – This is a time of isolation. You need some time alone to evaluate your year. This is a good time for meditation and self reflection. Withdrawing, you can decide whether to push forward or move on.

Year in Summary – King of Wands, reversed – The fiery and creative energies of this card are also hasty, rushed, and poorly used. Be careful not to be used yourself or use someone else. Fire is wonderfully creative when used correctly, but without care you can burn our or destroy what is around you.

 

Want your own Wheel of the Year reading? We are happy to do one for you!

Or, want to try your own? Here’s a blank spread for you to save and use!

Wheel of the Year

Endangered? More About White Sage and Palo Santo

It’s been going around a lot lately: two of the most commonly preferred plants for smudging, white sage and palo santo, have been declared endangered. As I keep hearing different versions of this, I know I can’t be the only one… well, confused. So I’ve done some digging for all of us, and hope this can help everyone cleanse their spaces, clear negative energies, and invite good vibes in peace!

Is White Sage Endangered?

First, the really simplified part: no, white sage is not listed as endangered. What it definitely is, though, is over harvested.

There is strong evidence of individuals harvesting white sage from protected lands and private lands. The craze for white sage over the last few years has drastically increased demand. Any time that happens, there are going to be people who take advantage of it, and in these case in both illegal ways and ways that are dangerous to the wild population of the plant.

How About Palo Santo?

A slightly more complicated answer for this one: Yes, but…

First of all, Palo Santo, or “Holy Wood,” is a name given to more than one species of plant. One of these species, Bulnesia Sarmientoi is endangered. The most commonly found variant of Palo Santo found in stores, with its golden yellow wood color, is Bursera Graveolens.

That said, it too could be threatened if wild harvesting at a significant rate is allowed. Traditional practices only cut the dead wood, which is much better for sustainability.

What about cultural appropriation?

That is a much bigger can of worms, and I will gladly go into it in a future blog posts. Pagans have a history of picking and choosing sacred practices from a lot of cultures, and I can’t decide for you how to feel about that.

What can I do if I want to keep burning these?

A couple of simple suggestions:

  • A lot of the white sage and palo santo on the market are farmed. This is good for continuing the species! Look for where your herbs are coming from.
  • Do not purchase white sage or palo santo that advertises it is “wild crafted.” This is harvesting the plants from their natural environments, which are what we want to preserve.
  • Double check what species you are buying. If you don’t know, don’t buy it.
  • Burn your white sage or palo santo sparingly. A little bit goes a long way.

What can I do instead of burning these?

First option, there are a lot of other plants you can burn instead:

  • Blue sage and desert sage also come in smudge bundles, and are not currently threatened.
  • Lavender, rosemary, and several other plants make good smudge bundles.
  • Frankincense and myrrh are related to Palo Santo, and also not threatened.

Or, there are options other than burning herbs for cleansing spaces. Take a look at our past blog post about cleansing methods for some other ideas.

What is Crooked Treehouse doing?

We already have a fair amount of white sage and palo santo in stock. When we next order, we will be taking a closer look at our suppliers. I will say we live far from where these are grown, so we can’t go to a farm and check for ourselves, but we will do our best to support sustainable harvest practices.

We also have many other sage options in stock, and all clearly labeled. So how about trying out some blue sage instead?

More about White Sage & Palo Santo

The Magic of Water

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Photo by Andy Vu on Pexels.com

I got talking with a customer the other day about the delight of a walk by the water. Crooked Treehouse’s home in Eden, NC is referred to as the “Land of Two Rivers” (for the obvious reason – the Dan and Smith rivers run through the heart of our little city). At this time of year, when emotions can run high and family obligations leave us stressed, there is nothing quite like a walk by the water to calm emotions and cleanse the soul.

Water as a Symbol

The symbology of water spans many cultures and myths. It is commonly linked with the mind and emotions, its unknowable depths reflecting what is unknown about the self. It is constantly changing with the tides. Water is usually connected as a feminine element. It is also seen as the source of life, connected with beginnings and longevity. Flowing water can also represent the passage of time. In tarot, the suit of cups are associated with water and emotion.

Water in Magic

Water is used in particular in magic involving healing or cleansing. The use of water should also not be underestimated in scrying.

Think about where you get your water from as you clarify the intent of your magic. Perhaps you will draw from still waters when you want to call from a depth of emotion, work deep healing, or are scrying on the mysteries hidden beneath the surface. Moving waters might work particularly well for cleansing or releasing energies, as you imagine what you are removing traveling away from you with the waters. Let what the waters mean to you echo through your work.

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Photo by Gëzim Fazliu on Pexels.com

A Cleansing by the River

With the end of the year, now is a good time to release that which no longer serves you and look to a fresh start for a new year. This is a peaceful letting go, allowing things to move on from your life.

What you will need:

  • Pen or Pencil
  • Paper (rice paper or other dissolving paper is best, so you don’t litter)
  • Running water – a creek, stream, or river will work best.

Take some time to listen to the flow of the water. Hear it move towards you and away. Focus on that which no longer serves you, that which you want to let go of in the new year (or month, or whenever you do this).

Once you have this clearly in your mind, start writing down what you are letting go of. Small things or large, write them down each on a separate piece of paper.

When you are ready, breathe out and release these into the water one at a time. Say aloud:

As water flows

I let this go

Take a deep breath and thank the water for its assistance and its influence in your life, and leave these things behind.

Any additional influences of water you have experienced and want to share? Please do so in the comments!

 

Magic of Water

 

Tarot Challenge: Feeling Overwhelmed

Hello again my lovely readers! I’ve got a little more on tarot reading for you today. I know, it’s been a while, but things generally calm down enough in the winter months that I can be more active posting to our blog.

Recently, we started advertising more of our tarot reading in the store. Both Jac and I have been getting in practice, and finding ways to hone our skills so that we can better do readings for those that visit. I decided to try an Instagram “reading a day” challenge, and pulled out one of the newest decks in my personal collection to practice with.

The deck I am using is Ostara Tarot. It is an artist collaboration deck with work by Molly Applejohn, Eden Cooke, Krista Gibbard, and Julia Iredale. This does make the imagry vary a bit from suit to suit, but not so badly that it feels disjointed.

Today’s challenge was a three card spread. I decided to focus on recent stresses in my life, hoping for some advice on how to handle them.

So without further ado, the card spread!

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For one, we will note that all of the cards ended up reversed. This is likely because as this is a new deck, while I shuffled significantly it’s possible they are still nearly all in one direction. So I evaluated based on both upright and reversed meanings. This guidebook does have better guides to the reversed meanings than most, so I am not as hesitant to use them.

Basis of the Situation: The World. For me, the very first thing that came to mind when looking at this card was a feeling of being overwhelmed. There is so much… everything! The World is also a card of cycles, and as the last card of the Major Arcana, a card of completion. A lot of unrest and work in my life is finally reaching a point of completion I have hoped for. I just moved into a new home, and the sale of my old one is finally going through, After two years of regular travel between multiple homes, I can finally settle back in with my husband. It has been so active for so long, it is hard to actually feel that completion. That difficulty reaching a sense of closure is one of the meanings indicated in the reversed card. It is also a warning to let things complete in their own time, and not to cut corners just because you want things over with.

The Now: Four of Cups. A woman with three cups in front of her disdains the fourth cup that is being offered. The image is one of being closed off, of not letting people in. With that sense from The World, there is also a feeling of so much being on the plate, you don’t want to add to it. But these are not bad goings on – these are good things, opportunities, and connections. It may seem like a lot, but you need to open up to them. Reversed also indicated coming opportunity, and a desire for connection. Share what you feel and let yourself be content. This also connects with recognizing when something is complete and embracing that!

The Outcome: Six of Cups. This is a card of innocence and fresh perspective. Since we are starting with The World, this is also a card reminding us of new beginnings. One cycle is over – it is time to remember the childlike joy of beginning something new. It is hard when you are looking at everything that still needs to be done, but there is also still opportunity to be embraced and fulfilled. Reversed reminds us not to dwell if things of the past are not fulfilled to our expectations.

So much of this reading can be summed up well with a great message for the new year: Letting go is hard, but as cycles come to an end it is time to embrace the new!

Update: More on the Future of Crooked Treehouse

Hey guys! It’s been about two months since I first posted about decisions about the near future of Crooked Treehouse, and if you’ve been by The Boulevard lately you’ll notice we’re still here. Heh. So, a general update!

First of all, no, we have not yet raised the money to buy our building. I am not calling it a lost cause yet, as there are still some additional possibilities out there. And you can still donate to our Go Fund Me to help us out.

I do want to put out a huge thank you to everyone who helped spread the word in July! Thanks in a large part to you, our sales keep growing every month. The more we sell, obviously the better we can keep this shop in our community. We have loved meeting so many new people these last couple of months, and hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have!

Now, I mentioned in my last post about this that the reason for the shop probably to be closing in the not too distant future is that I’ll soon be buying a house and thus no longer living upstairs. That said… we don’t have a new house yet. So I expect at this point the Treehouse will be here at least through October, and possibly longer. Plus, like I said, there are some other possibilities that may keep the shop open. So I’ll keep you informed!

And in no way are we treating it like we are about to close! We are bringing in new inventory weekly. There are new books, tarot decks, and more that all came in the last month. This week, we’re getting a shipment in of 2020 planners and calendars. Plus we have already ordered some Samhain and Halloween themed items!

On top of that, September and October are our months for Pagan Pride events. We love these! I do a booth with my other business, Wyrd Armouries, with our handmade ritual items. This year, I will also bring a selection of items from the Treehouse as well, to make them available to new people and help promote the shop.

So, look for us in the Wyrd Armouries booth at:

And should our storefront close down the line, our items will still be available, whether it is through events or our website, until we can manage to get a storefront established again.

Thank you for your patience and support as we work this all out!

Tarot Tuesday: Food Fortunes

I’ve said before that I am a collector of tarot cards. When it comes to decks, there are two things I can’t resist: unusual art decks and good humorous decks. That’s why on a recent mall trip I could not leave without Food Fortunes by Josh Lafayette.

Food Fortunes follows a standard tarot format of 78 cards… but takes it in its own way.  The Trumps are “cornerstones of iconic cuisine.” Then there are its four unique suits: Mains, Sides, Sweets, and Drinks.

The deck has one purpose, and it embraces it with a delightful sense of humor: helping you decide what’s for dinner. Or breakfast. Or a midnight snack. The book is short and simple, and the illustrations clear and colorful with just enough of a hint of mystic imagery.

I tried my first hand for a meal for tomorrow, and here’s the result.

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The interpretation of this reading – tomorrow’s meal will not have any salad. In fact, it’s not a healthy meal at all, but clearly a dessert! In fact, it’s a unique drink somewhere between a cola float and an egg cream, with pie added in. Sounds crazy, but I have seen some crazy desserts! On the side, an orange juice.

This deck is more of a novelty image, but it will be a fun addition to my growing collection.

 

Looking to grow your collection? We have several new decks coming in to the shop at the end of this week, so stop by Saturday to have first pick of what’s new! Or look at our deck section of our Facebook store.

Help Us Move Forward Into New Adventures!

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Hello my lovely readers, my regular customers, and fans of Crooked Treehouse!

By now, some of you have heard our “plans” for Crooked Treehouse. And I put that in quotes because they have always been a little loose. This tiny business was almost created as a whim.

There we were, on the honestly sad looking historic Boulevard, living in this could-be adorable tiny yellow old commercial building turned house. We could see, with little effort, that the front of the house could be turned back into a tiny business. So we did. We opened up Crooked Treehouse in October, dressed up the front of the building, and turned this little house back into a living business.

Well, my time living here will soon be coming to an end. Within the next two months or so, I – Cynthia, owner of Crooked Treehouse – will be buying a new place with my husband, and will no longer need to rent this building as my house. That unfortunately makes it no longer cost effective to run the business as we are.

But we love it, and have multiple options on how Crooked Treehouse can continue. Here’s what we would ideally like to have happen:

  • We buy the building that currently houses Crooked Treehouse
  • We expand the shop into about twice its current size by opening it up into both front rooms of the building.
  • We redo the apartment above into an awesome space for the awesome Jac – our amazing friend who helps keep Crooked Treehouse running.

That would take finances we don’t currently have, and that’s why we are turning to you, our regulars and friends, to help.

What can you do?

  • Contribute to our GoFundMe campaign to help keep our doors open after I move out. If we make our goal, we can buy and renovate the building! If we fall short, we can at least stay open a bit longer.
  • Stop in and buy! If you’ve been thinking about shopping but haven’t, now would definitely be a good time.
  • Buy from our Facebook store, or get an online tarot reading. All sales will help keep the business going.
  • Spread the word. Share this blog link or our GoFundMe link to anyone you think might be interested in helping!
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Renovations step 1: All new doors and windows, and a fresh coat of colorful paint to make the building stand out! Colors are just approximate, but we want a purple door!
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Renovations step 2: Paint the odd side above the roofline of the next building with an awesome mural.
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Renovations step 3: Add an archway on this wall to open it up into the next room. Front room would now be crystal and handmade gift focus, second room would be candles, herbs, tarot cards and books,. Plus it will give us room for a reading nook/small workshop space.

May Full Moon: Flower Moon

Full Moon of May

The name of this Saturday’s full moon fits the month so beautifully! A full moon in May is called the “Flower Moon.”

Like the flower, this is the time to blossom! The seeds we have planted burst forth beautifully, embracing the magical energies of the season. This is a great time to focus our energies and magics on rituals involving:

  • Prosperity
  • Fertility
  • Sex

The full moon in general is a great time to embrace feminine energies. The full moon is a time of transition, a time to let go of things from the previous cycle and embrace the new. This is a wonderful time for new beginnings and to truly manifest your personal magic.

This weekend’s Flower Moon is extra special, because it is also a Blue Moon. What makes it a blue moon? Each season usually has three full moons, but this Spring has four. That extra full moon is a “blue moon,” and that is what we have this Saturday! This rare occurrence should bring some extra “oomph” to whatever you choose to accomplish.

Embrace the moonlight however feel right to you! Some good things to do under the moonlight are:

  • Take a moonlit bath. (One of those few times to be glad for a window in your bathroom!)
  • Meditate on and charge your crystals with renewed energy.
  • Spend some time outside and meditate in the moonlight.

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Have a lovely Saturday, and we’d love to hear how the extraordinary full moon fulfills you!

Tarot Tuesday: Wheel of the Year with Starman Tarot

Of the decks I collect, I particularly love artist decks, so I was immediately drawn to the Starman Tarot as soon as I saw it in a catalog. The deck is by Davide de Angelis, inspired by artwork he created for David Bowie. The result is stunning, psychedelic collages filled with symbolism and meaning. I could stare at these cards for hours picking out new details.

At the beginning of each year, I try and do a 12 month reading with one card symbolizing each month. I had not yet opened up my Starman Tarot before today, but this seemed like a good day to break it out.

Onward to the reading!

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Twelve cards from the Starman Tarot, spread out in my wheel of the year spread.

January: Six of Wands. A card of success, a celebration of a well chosen goal or ambition. Celebrate that which you have achieved. This card suggests a well earned position of leadership, and recognition of your hard work. You deserve this success, so embrace it!

February: Ten of Wands. Tens represent the completion of cycles, and the ten of wands has you at the reward and burden of the completion of an epic task. You have made it through to the end (though it may take one last, difficult push), and it is time to lighten your load and admire what is around you. Success has its consequences and there is still hard work ahead.

March: Four of Pentacles*. Life is constantly in flux, no matter how much we want it to remain stable. This is a time to reinvent yourself and let go of false identities. You have a huge confidence that you can leverage what you want out of life, but beware becoming complacent in success. Hard won successes and working for a noble cause helps us grow.

April: The Sacred Clown**. Called “The Fool” in most tarot decks, instead of the naivete of most designs this one depicts a trickster. No belief is fixed, so it’s time to take a leap of faith. Take a risk, a big one. Embrace your potential and your freedom.

May: Justice. Now is a time to face consequences and seek inner balance. Take an honest inventory and acknowledge your successes and defeats. Don’t blame others, but look to yourself and the balance between heart and mind. Reclaim your own power.

June: Queen of Swords. Court cards are interesting and challenging in any reading, because they can mean certain ideals or people in your life to exemplify them. This card encourages you to use the power of nature around you and approach things with intelligence. Or it could mean someone with a brilliant mind, strong and principled.

July: Queen of Wands. Step into your creative power. Be resolute and confident as you break out of the mold. Trust yourself.  Or a bold, courageous, fiery individual.

August: Princess of Cups. Don’t let the hurts and challenges of life sour you, but instead let them drive your creativity and growth. Look at negative things from a different angle and let them transform you. Or, a creative and sensitive individual, a dreamer with a unique perspective.

September: The Hanged Man.  No matter how much you try to push ahead, sometimes things are out of your control. Now is a time to surrender. Take some time to look at your life from a different perspective. Even if you lose things in the process, take this moment to turn inward and reflect on yourself. Power can arise through sacrifice.

October: The Hierophant. Take the time to teach others what you know and through that gain a greater understanding. Pay attention to details. Could also depict a strong religious male, a guru and giver of greater spiritual or religious knowledge. An authoritative and structured card.

November: Two of Wands. Twos are cards of choices and decisions to be made. This is a time to make the effort to gain a greater perspective. You are caught up in your creativity, and if you don’t pause to look around you might fly right off the precipice. Take a moment and look ahead before you begin something new. See how the moment fits into the bigger picture.

December: Ace of Cups. This is my favorite tarot card, and the one I take extra time to look at in decks when evaluating them. This one does not disappoint. This card shows such an abundance of growth that the cup overflows. Offer up your bounty, your creative brilliance and love. What has been barren can now bear fruit. Open yourself up to it and end the year replenished and reinvigorated.

Some additional notes on my reading…

*Experienced tarot card readers may notice that I often ignore reversals. The truth is, I’ve learned to trust in my intuition for when the apply and when they don’t. As this was a reading for the year, the upright cards tended to speak more to situations and the reversed to internal problems. For that reason, I felt the upright meanings in this reading would be more viable. But we can always go back and look a year from now and see if I was right or not!

**The appearance of the Major Arcana in a reading are always places of greater importance. Interestingly, in this reading they came in two clumps, almost six months apart. I particularly found the juxtaposition of The Sacred Clown and The Hanged Man to be interesting – both are cards of surrender, but one is one of action and one of inaction. One to take a leap of faith, and one to pause and reconsider. I look forward to looking back (hah! Appropriate, since that’s almost exactly what these do…) on this in a year.

Happy New Year everyone, and good luck on 2019!