Archive for August, 2014

The Humble Quartz

Better late than never! I’m in the midst of moving house this week, so everything has been a bit disorganized. Hopefully things will die down after next week, when we’re all moved in and comfy in the new place. Without further ado…

Week 34 (Q): quartz

Quartz often seems like the default stone, with good reason. It’s something you can find almost anywhere, it’s affordable, and it serves a variety of purposes. I’ve always found it useful as an amplifier of spells, which is why I keep a quartz pyramid sitting on my altar.

Rose, blueberry, smoky, amethyst, citrine, aqua aura, strawberry, phantom…there’s a huge variety. Rather than make this post way too long by discussing each one, I wanted to focus on clear quartz. This variety of quartz is good for amplifying psychic powers, helping to clear chakras, purification, meditation help, and healing. Eason recommends that “if you have only one healing crystal it should be clear quartz”. I’ve definitely used it for cleansing and amplification purposes, but never for healing. Learn something new every day!

Bout to realign some chakras motherfucker (Debra Baxter)

Bout to realign some chakras up in this motherfucker…(original art piece by Debra Baxter)

One of my favorite books – Liz Berry’s The China Garden – features a quartz goddess statue that absorbs negative energy. This book ties in nicely with the idea that quartz is sometimes used to honor Gaia. It really is a multipurpose stone, as much as amethyst is (if not more so). I think quartz is an excellent crystal to start with for anybody building their collection.

References

Crystal Vaults: Quartz

Eason, Cassandra. 2010. The Complete Crystal Handbook.

Hall, Judy. 2003. The Crystal Bible: A Definitive Guide to Crystals.

Melody. 2008. Love is in the Earth: A Kaleidoscope of Crystals, updated.

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The Quest for New Books

Week 33 (Q): the quest for new books

A lot of times I hear newly hatched witches asking “What should I read?” My answer is usually “Read everything”. But inevitably they want me to clarify what I mean. So I figured it might be useful to put together a step by step checklist of how I choose what to read. In general, this list applies more to nonfiction than fiction. (Adopting James also did a great post on this topic.)

pretty much my apartment

pretty much my apartment

Step 1: read to your skill level. This is not to say that those relatively new to paganism should never read more advanced books, but you do need to have a basic understanding of beginner concepts before you can progress to more complex forms of knowledge.

Step 2: read reviews of the book you’re interested in. Read reviews on Goodreads (here’s my list of witchy books and my reviews of the witchy books I’ve read) or your review site of choice. I also like to ask other pagans what their favorite books are.

Step 3: read snarky ass pagan communities like Paganism & Wicca over on Facebook. Seriously, I love this group and the smackdown they lay on a regular basis.

Step 4: compare and contrast. Look at what different lists do and do not include to get a sense of whether there’s a core set of books that almost everybody recommends. Those are often an excellent place to start.

Step 5: read widely. I can’t stress this one enough. You shouldn’t be solely reading two or three authors, nor should you always pick authors you agree with. Read people you know you won’t like, because then you’ll be informed enough to disagree with them. Read sexist asshats (borrow their books from the library so they don’t profit from you!) and people who are just plain wrong. Read everything with a boulder of salt next to you.

Step 6: whenever possible, get a feel for the book. I like to hold books whenever possible and find out how they make me feel. Get thee to your local independent bookstore and feel up some books. (Then buy them on Kindle if you’re me. Sorry local bookstores, but I don’t always have the shelf space.)

That’s pretty much how I choose my books! I really like using websites like What Should I Read Next? and Whichbook, though their recommendations are sometimes a little strange. How do you pick what to read?


Practical Magic

Week 32 (P): Practical Magic (and other enjoyable fiction about witches)

Hi, my name is Anonywitch and I like Practical Magic. The book and the movie.

I can hear some of you rolling your eyes already. But hear me out.

Books that have positive portrayals of witches are highly valuable. Maybe they’ll make someone think twice about their negative stereotypes of pagans. These books don’t mirror my life, but then I don’t expect them to; they are fiction after all. The books listed below are all largely positive depictions of witches, while not necessarily being all love and light representations.

Some of the fiction about witches that I’ve read and enjoyed includes:

  • Chocolat by Joanne Harris
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (book 1 in her All Souls trilogy. of course I enjoy the rest of the trilogy as well – I’m about to start the third book and am SO EXCITED)
  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (most of her books feature magic and witchy-types, though this one is my favorite)
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (predictable? maybe, but this series keeps me connected to my childhood and I love it for that reason alone)
  • Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
  • When Autumn Leaves by Amy S. Foster
  • The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Consider giving some of these books a shot when you’re looking for something new to read. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite. Other suggestions welcome.