Week 39 (T): a rambly sort of post about the significance and beauty of the number three (3)
I’ve previously written about the Rule of Three, but what about other things that come in threes? Turns out there’s more than I thought. Here’s a brief, slightly rambling list about witchy things that come in threes.
While looking at Wikipedia’s entry about the writing principle called the rule of three (I got lost on the way to the page about the witchy version of the rule of three), I discovered the Latin phrase “omne trium perfectum”. This translates to either “every set of three is complete” or “everything that comes in threes is perfect”. For some reason, upon reading this my first thought was of the Triple Goddess. I think this phrase is also a reminder that while bad things come in threes, good things do too.
The second thing is this poem from “the Scottish Play” (yes, I’m superstitious). Shakespeare is a genius, but these three lines from the witches are just particularly phenomenal. Maybe it’s a little cheesy and overly theatrical, but sometimes I use this verse to seal a spell. It’s just so perfect. And old poems always somehow feel like they hold more power than ones that have been written more recently.
Thrice to thine and thrice to mineAnd thrice again, to make up nine.Peace! The charm’s wound up.– Shakespeare
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.)
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?
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.
Week 29 (O): how [not] to come out of the broom closet
There are good and bad ways to come out of the closet, and I’m about to share some excellent advice* with you. This post was originally inspired by an old post I stumbled across back in the day, when Livejournal was the place where all the cool kids hung out. Since then, I’ve read many pieces on coming out of the broom closet and figured it was about time I added my $0.02 to the pot.
1) When coming out to your family, be sure to do so at the dinner table. Bonus points if you pray first, and explain later.
2) When someone shouts at you that being pagan is a terrible decision, be sure to remind them that they have to accept it (or else).
3) Before you come out of the broom closet, buy the biggest pentacle you can find and wear it often. This will ease the transition and get you the attention you want.
4) Constantly remind everyone that black cats are the most magic and that you’ll only ever have black cats because you’re a Real Witch™.
5) Also remind everyone that you are not doing the Devil’s work but instead are an angel of light.
6) Arguing with people on the internet about what real witches do and do not do is a rite of passage. Go forth!
7) People who have been Pagan way longer than you don’t actually know anything. Don’t ask any of them for advice** because they’re snarky bastards who will make fun of you in blog posts (guilty as charged).
8) Make sure to stress how you are the Only True Witch, while thoroughly shittalking*** other people who are also new to Paganism and making the same mistakes as you.
9) Plan your coming out for a major holiday. Bonus points if it’s a parent’s or relative’s birthday. After all, the most important person in this process is YOU.
10) Expect the timeline for everyone to get used to the idea of you being Pagan to be approximately one week. After that, be sure to express your supreme irritation and disgust with anyone who asks questions about your new identity.
11) Be prepared to answer everyone’s questions. Bonus points if you sound like you swallowed a Silver Ravenwolf book when you do answer. (Be sure to use Hermione Granger’s cadence when lecturing others! The Muggles usually aren’t capable of understanding, but give it a shot anyway.)
12) Speaking of Hermione, draw a great many comparisons between your faith and Harry Potter. It will help everybody understand****.
13) Every time you introduce yourself to a new person, proclaim your Paganism. “Hi, I’m So-and-so, and guess what? You just shook hands with a really powerful witch! [So don’t screw with me.]”
Too mean? Probably. All joking? Of course. Mostly.
* Not actually excellent advice, unless all your family and closest friends appreciate snark as much as I do.
** Seriously tongue in cheek. Many older Pagans can and do give excellent advice. Ask with an open heart, and be sure you’re not starting from a place of ignorance. If you say something stupid, or you get told, apologize. Be humble, as you are the seeker.
*** If this isn’t actually a word, it should be.
**** Actually, it will help most people roll their eyes at you.