The Spells Deck: A Tarot Tuesday Deck Review

IMG_20200310_175123-01When it comes to what decks I actually read from, I tend towards relatively traditional tarot decks with lovely new artwork interpretations. But I can’t help myself: If I see a deck that is particularly odd, unusual, or even silly I will be tempted to buy it.

So, on a recent road trip, The Spells Deck by Cat Cabral, with illustrations by Kim Knoll, caught my eye and, well, I bought it.

I will be clear right off the bat: this deck is not a tarot deck and does not claim to be one. The back of the (rather nice, sturdy box) reads:

“Enhance your life with magic. This enchanting deck features 78 rituals, spells, and recipes for love, empowerment, healing, and so much more. Brimming with alluring illustrations and powerful practices rooted in ancient traditions, this illuminating deck makes it easy to infuse each day with the wonders of magic.”

IMG_20200310_175346-01Interestingly, the deck does have 78 cards like most tarot decks, but as this is not a tarot deck there are no suits or arcana. Instead, each card gives you a mini magical lesson and a small way to practice what you learn. The cards come in eight categories: Witch’s Tools, Language of Magic, Bonds of Love, Abundance and Good Fortune, Rites of Purification and Renewal, Fires of Passion and Creativity, Intuitive Awareness, and Witch’s Familiars. It comes with a small pamphlet with some additional magical basics and suggestions on how to use the deck.

The deck has a nice feel to it – standard size, with a satiny finish and a relatively standard weight. I did have a couple of cards get wrinkles through them apparently in the printing process.

IMG_20200310_175235-01I have to disagree with the assessment of “alluring illustrations.” The card backs are kind of mediocre modern art, with a different color scheme/swatch and line combo for each of the subject categories. Each card has an icon and title in a sort of gold/mustard yellow, and otherwise is very plain text. The simplicity is easy to read, and illustrations are not really needed for that purpose, but as a very visual person that description is deceiving.

The information here is basic, but it covers the basics well. This is an interesting way to present the magical learning I have read many times in an easily digestible format. Kind of like flash cards for the baby witch. And as someone more experienced, I am mostly pleased with the information they presented. I am particularly happy with everything they decided to include in the “Witch’s Tools” section. I am confused by what deities it chose to include: mentions of Greco-Roman gods and Orishas, but not really any other pantheons, strikes me as an odd choice and I honestly wonder whether that was consciously thought out or not.

Honestly, aside from the novelty of the deck that was the reason I bought it, I can see two solid uses for this deck:

  • A solid beginning for the new witch who wants to take things in smaller doses
  • A good daily practice deck for the witch who wants to make magic a better habit and can use the cards as a daily refresher.

This sound interesting to you? Use the image below to share this article on Pinterest or other platforms, and click on the link below to buy this deck from Amazon:

The Spells Deck: 78 Charms, Remedies, and Rituals for the Modern Mystic

The Spells Deck

The Magic of Snow

black and white cold fog forest
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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I’m watching the snow fall outside and thinking about all the magical feelings that a snowy day invokes for me. From the remembered childish joy of the snow day – that totally persists when it is too snowy to get to work, admit it! – to the feeling of peace and quiet of an untouched snowy field or forest. But how can we harness that feeling in our magical life?

First of all, don’t forget to read our article on the Magic of Water – Snow is, after all, water as well, so a lot of the correspondences still apply.

But what makes the snow special, and how can you use it?

Snow has a greater permanence than water, but it is also transient, melting away as the weather warms again. You can use this energy by writing sigils in the snow. These can be things you are hoping to banish, and thus by writing them in the snow you are letting them melt away peacefully with the weather. Or, much like writing something and then burning it, you can use this to call and release that energy, putting what you are working for out into the world around you. Or just try a protection sigil on your car to protect you during icy driving!

Have someone you need to freeze out of your life? Try working a freezing spell starting with collected snow, for a little extra seasonal oomph! You can collect and keep the snow now, so you’ll have that energy saved for later in the year, whenever you need it.

The melt and flow of water can also be a powerful tool for transformation. Make something out of snow that you want to see change and let the melt help that change along. Or, collect snow and let it melt, then keep that water specifically for spells involving gentle change in the future.

Remember how water connects with emotions? Use the peaceful energy of clean, white snow to ease tempers and calm emotions.

Take a moment to enjoy the peace of snow by talking a walk while it is falling, or in the clean snow just after. There is a special silence to snowy days that can be helpful when meditating, connecting with the seasons and the earth around us, or just letting our troubles drift away for a while.

Or maybe all of this sounds too cold for you, and what you really want to do is curl up with a hot chocolate and a good book? That’s my plan tonight! I’m going to catch up on some witchy reading, but this would also be a wonderful time to research deities connected to snow and winter. There is no better time to connect with them than in in the middle of a beautiful snow fall!

magic of snow

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

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

person wearing blue denim jacket riding red canoe boat
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.

brown leaf floating on water
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