Friday, August 12, 2022

Review: Murder at Witch's Bluff

 

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Publications; 1st edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567187277
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567187274

True to its title, Murder at Witch's Bluff has it all, murder, mystery, magick, and even a little romance. As someone who once enjoyed Silver Ravenwolf's non-fictional material as well as her previous book Beneath a Mountain Moon, I was very interested in reading more of her fiction that wasn't geared specifically towards the teenage market.

In this book, Silver has defiantly captured the feel of small town America with all its vices and virtues. The characters, for the most part, are well thought out with a few exceptions. The central character, Siren McKay, is portrayed as a very strong willed woman even in the face of the terrible violence that she was exposed to, and the victim of, in a relatively short amount of time. I absolutely loved the character of Nana Loretta, and the descriptions of her magickal practices were an added bonus.

I also felt that Tanner's struggle with attempting to find if magick and witchcraft had a place in his life is also one that many of us have also struggled with ourselves. I also liked that fact that this book portrayed a gay character (Lexi) who wasn't too stereotypical. Although her part was relatively small, Gemma was completely psychotic as any murderous villain. Though he starts out as a very unsympathetic character, Uncle Jess become more endearing as the author peels back the layers to reveal the man behind all the gruff. Other than Siren herself, I felt as though Serato, was one of the most interesting of characters in the book. At times it almost felt as if he was a narrator, as his observations of the other characters in the book were so accurate and greatly helped to move the story along.

I failed to comprehend the exact purpose for the character of Rachael in the story. It seems that the author either had planned to do more with her and decided not to do so, or that she was always intended to be a throw-away character for the purpose of adding to the list of suspects. I also would have liked at least one scene depicting Siren applying her trade as a hypnotherapist.

Overall the plot was well conceived if not original, although I have to admit that the story did not unfold in the direction that I had previously thought it would. Although there were a few continuity errors and more than a few typos, it did not detract from the over all story itself in my opinion. The mysterious in this novel are numerous, although some will not be as mysterious as others to the observant reader. The pacing is fast throughout the book with virtually no slow spots. Fellow crafters will enjoy the inclusion of descriptions of actual spells and ritual, as well as the inclusion of actual Wiccan poetry that has been found in non-fiction works.

I was a bit disappointed with the fact that the author chose not to include a scene in which the characters who were either absent or unconscious at the book's climax were told the truth about the novel's central mystery and how they dealt with this information; instead the reader is left to infer for himself how they reacted. Although the final scene wraps up all but a few loose ends, they seemed to be inconsequential in the face of what actually transpired.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I felt that the bad far outweighed the good and would recommend Murder at Witch's Bluff to anyone interested in magickal fiction, or just anyone who loves a good story!

- Carolina Dean 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Venus in Leo 2022

 


Venus in Leo 

8/11/22 6:35 PM 

Whole Houses 


Venus in Leo (General) 

When Venus is in Leo, people are generally more enthusiastic about life, romance, and physical activities of all kinds.  They are more playful and need more attention.  They are more in touch with the creative and artistic aspects of their personality and are more in love with love. People are generally more interested in romance and socializing and can get caught up in the game of love. 

Where Leo falls in your natal chart is the area of life that is being activated by this Venus in Leo. 

  • If your rising sign is Aries, Leo is your 5th House. 
  • If your rising sign is Taurus, Leo is your 4th House. 
  • If your rising sign is Gemini, Leo is your 3rd House. 
  • If your rising sign is Cancer, Leo is your 2nd House. 
  • If your rising sign is Leo, Leo is your 1st House. 
  • If your rising sign is Virgo, Leo is your 12th House. 
  • If your rising sign is Libra, Leo is your 11th House. 
  • If your rising sign is Scorpio, Leo is your 10th House. 
  • If your rising sign is Sagittarius, Leo is your 9th House. 
  • If your rising sign is Capricorn, Leo is your 8th House. 
  • If your rising sign is Aquarius, Leo is your 7th House. 
  • If your rising sign is Pisces, Leo is your 6th House. 



Example 


Venus in Leo and the 10th House 

When Venus is in Leo and the 10th house, you are more charming and magnetic to the public. Your work is more creative, and you can make a social impact.  In terms of love, you can find your self attracted to someone older or more mature who is stable and established (the 10th house is ruled by Saturn). It is possible that you could meet someone through your career.  

Aspects 

Aspects, or relationships between planets is a another dimension of astrological interpretation that should be considered. For example, let us suppose that you have Natal Moon in 29° Aries. This would mean that Transit Venus in 0° Leo is forming a square to your Natal Moon. A square is a type of aspect in which the energy or urge of one planet is squaring off against the energy or urge of another planet. When Transit Venus Square your Natal Moon you have a tendency to be lazy and self-indulgent. If partnered, you may feel that something is a bit off with your relationship which you have difficulty defining. This may be a period in which you splurge too much on items for your home because spending money softens the emotional unease you are experiencing. 

How will the ingress of Venus in Leo manifest for you?

Carolina Dean 

Full Moon in Aquarius 2022

 


Full Moon in Aquarius 
8/11/22 6:35 PM 
Whole Houses 

A Full Moon occurs when the Sun and the Moon occupy the same degrees of opposing astrological signs. As you can see from the above Full Moon Chart, the Sun is at 19° Leo and the Moon is 180° away at 19° Aquarius making this a Full Moon. When two planets form an opposition in this manner it creates a division. Two things are being split apart or divided. 

The Big Picture 

Aquarius is associated with groups of likeminded individuals. They usually come together for a single purpose which serves the group's interests or agenda and which is greater than that of any one individual. For this reason Aquarius rules over clubs, organizations, friends, groups, and associations. 

On the flipside, Leo is more about the individual. Leo is the dramatic actor, proud and territorial  who needs to take center stage and get all the attention for themselves.  They are not concerned with the needs of the many (in a general sense here) but rather with their own needs. 

So what we can expect from this Full Moon in Aquarius? Well a divide between the group agenda / needs and the needs of the individual is expected. With the Full Moon in Aquarius friends and associations come under scrutiny and some relationships or associations may come to an end. Alternately, an acquaintance may become a closer friend. People are, generally speaking, less materialistic now and more charitable. People tend to focus on their dreams for the future now as well as their place in the world.  Now is the time to take steps towards realizing ones dreams or abandon them all together for something more realistic.  

Working with Full Moon in Aquarius Energy

  • Donate time, money, or energy to a worthy humanitarian cause 
  • Sign a petition for a cause that you believe in 
  • Join a group that interest you. 
  • Start a club or organization that you would want to join. 
  • Participate in a Protest March 
  • Get involved in local politics 
  • Research a topic that you're in interested in (especially if it involves technology or cutting edge science) 
  • Give yourself more freedom   

The Personal Touch  

To better understand how the Full Moon in Aquarius will affect you on an individual level you need to look at the houses in which Aquarius falls in your Natal Chart. 

  • If your rising sign is Aries, Aquarius is your 11th House 
  • If your rising sign is Taurus, Aquarius is your 10th House 
  • If your rising sign is Gemini, Aquarius is your 9th House 
  • If your rising sign is Cancer, Aquarius is your  8th House
  • If your rising sign is Leo, Aquarius is your 7th House
  • If your rising sign is Virgo, Aquarius is your 6th House
  • If your rising sign is Libra, Aquarius is your  5th House 
  • If your rising sign is Scorpio, Aquarius is your 4th House 
  • If your rising sign is Sagittarius, Aquarius is your 3rd House 
  • If your rising sign is Capricorn, Aquarius is your 2nd House 
  • If your rising sign is Aquarius, Aquarius is your 1st House
  • If your rising sign is Pisces, Aquarius is your 12th House 

For example, in my own chart Aquarius is in the 4th Natal House and Leo is in the 10th.  These two houses are known as the Angular Houses (along with the 1st and 7th) and these are very powerful houses. The fourth house is known as the Imum Coeli (IC) and the tenth house is known as the Midheaven or Medium Coeli (MC). 

Whereas the IC rules over our home and private life, the MC rules over our public life and reputation. For me, there would seem to be a divide between my sense of privacy and what I share with the public (or how I am perceived by the public). With the Full Moon in the 4th house, endings related to the home and family are indicated. This may also be a situation that I would want to keep from the public or to somehow control the flow of information so as the prevent misunderstanding with the public.  

You can go deeper by checking the aspects between the Full Moon in 1° Aquarius and other points in your natal chart. For example, in my own natal chart, the Full Moon at 1° Aquarius is applying a sextil to my Natal Chiron in 19° Aries. When the Moon sextiles Chiron the opportunity to work through one's insecurities are presented to us. 

How will the Full Moon in Aquarius affect you?

Carolina Dean 


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

MIPC: OPA!

Note: MIPC stands for Magic in Popular Culture and this is a series of posts in which I take a magical belief or practice from a work of fiction such as movies, books, comic books, or tv shows and analyze them against real-world magical beliefs and practices.

The Spell, Ritual or Belief 

 



While attending a luncheon shortly after New Year's (the episode was filmed sometime after Christmas 2020 and before Valentines 2021) the ladies of New York partake in the Greek Tradition of breaking plates also known as Opa (a word meaning oops or whoops)  According to their host at the restaurant, Greeks break things for two reasons. They are 1) to banish evil spirits and 2) to  make a wish for in good luck. 
Each of the ladies then take turns smashing stoneware while setting intentions for where they'd like their lives to go in the future. 
The Real Housewives of New York
Season 13 Ep 17
The Doppelgang's All Here 


The Analysis 

According to my research this is absolutely correct. The practice was banned by the government in 1969. However, in the modern era, the tradition of plate smashing continues, but mostly only during special occasions such as weddings. In addition, special plaster plates are often used in place of ceramic or stoneware ones. 

In other media 

  • Three's Company - Opening Night (Nov. 16th 1982). In this episode Larry's Greek family comes to Jack's Bistro on opening night and ends up smashing all of his plates. At first Jack is dismayed, however, Larry then explains that his family will pay for the cost of the plates and then Jack joins in the celebration.  
  • Alice - Has Anyone Seen Here Seen Telly (Sep. 23rd, 1979) While working alone in the restaurant, Vera meets Telly Savalas who comes in to use the telephone. When no one believes here, Vera quits. Alice then convinces Telly (who is staying in a nearby hotel) to come visit the diner. At the end of his meal, Telly and his brother George begin smashing plates. 
  • Frasier - Beware of Greeks (Mar 17th 1998) Frasier attends his Greek cousin's wedding during which the participants break plates to celebrate the bride and groom. 

- Carolina Dean  

Monday, August 8, 2022

Book Review: The Witches of Eastwick (1984)

 

  • Author: John Updike 
  • Publication Date: April 12th 1984 
  • No. of Pages: 306

The Witches of Eastwick is another example of a great book being turned into a less than stellar movie. If you’re familiar with the movie, there’s a lot in this book that you’ll find familiar as well. Unlike the movie which was set in the late 1980’s, the book takes place in the fictional town of Eastwick, Rhode Island at the time of the Vietnam War. The story mainly concerns Alexandra, an artist; Jane, a cellist; and Sukie, a columnist. They are in the primes of their lives, each having either left, or been left by, their respective husbands.


Following the void left by their husbands, the women find an inner power they each posses…the power of witchcraft. These witches, however, are a far cry from the an it harm none variety with which many modern readers in the know are familiar. No, these witches are promiscuous, spiteful, vindictive, and they’re not above putting a hex on their enemies.

Enter Daryl Van Horn. Summoned to town not by the witches magic, by rather by a desire to escape a past life and possibly numerous creditors; Daryl promptly takes possession of and begins remodeling Lenox Manor. One by one, the witches are seduced by Daryl who each takes him as their lover. In the mean time, the witches have conjured a cookie jar in such as way as to cause their enemy (and most outspoken opponent) Felecia Gabriel to vomit all manner of feathers, dirt, pins, etc…which ultimately leads to her murder by Felecia’s husband, who goes on to commit suicide.

Following the death of Felecia and Clyde Gabriel, their children Chris and Jenny return to Eastwick to settle their parent’s affairs. Finding the girl to be sweet, innocent, and accommodating and perhaps even out of a sense of guilt, the witches invite Jenny to participate in their activities with Daryl. However, Jenny proves to be too accommodating and accepts Daryl’s proposal for marriage. It is then that the witches conspire to punish the girl they believe stole their shared lover for herself.

The remainder of the story examines the lives of all those involved as the witch’s curse takes its toll and we are able to also see the consequences of the magic they invoked. In the end, it seems that everyone’s relationship suffers. Will the witches be able to undo the damage they have done? Will they be able to heal the rift that has come between them? Will anything ever be the same?

Prudish types may find the frank and sometimes descriptive depictions of the witches sexual encounters unsavory. I personally did not like the slurs the witches use when referring to men they suspect to be gay. However, as a gay man myself I am not unaccustomed to such prejudice and I chalked it up to the women’s generation.

I really enjoyed the depictions of the witches flavor of witchcraft and found their use of common household items in their spells an excellent example of Kitchen Witchery. At roughly 300 pages Witches isn’t a quick read, as it is filled with a great deal of detail that the author is famous for. Some may feel that the story branches off from it’s self in a few places but it only adds to the overall story, as Witches isn’t just about three women, it’s a story about an entire town and the effects of gossip, scandal, and magic run wild. 

Carolina Dean

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Book Review: Conjure Wife by Fritz Weaver

 

  • Conjure Wife 
  • Mass Market Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books (1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441116868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441116867

Considered a modern horror story for it's time, Conjure Wife reinvents the 'witch' as well educated women far removed from the green-skinned, hag of our collective imagination and allows her story to unfold on a modern university campus. The action begins fairly early in the book when Norman Saylor, a professor of ethnology, discovers his wife Tansy has put his research into "Negro Conjure Magic" into practice for the sake of protecting him from other spell casting faculty wives who wish to further their own husbands careers and with that their own social standing.

Being a rational man of science Norman has only an academic interest in the subject of magic and superstition and he forces Tansy to cease all her workings and to burn all her charms which mostly take the form of mojo bags (called hands in the book)--with the exception of her diary which contains her formulas for How to Make Wishes Work, How To Get and Guard, to Spell and to Hex. No sooner does Norman burn the last charm hidden in his pocket watch, which Tansy either purposely or accidentally forgot was there, do things start to fall apart. A former student accuses Norman of railroading him into failing out of school and threatens him with a gun, his student-secretary accuses him of having seduced her, and he is passed over for a promotion that had seemed guaranteed.

Norman then begins to have more than his fair share of small accidents such as cutting himself while shaving, stepping on carpet tacks, cutting his hand with a letter opener, etc... and he begins to imagine that he senses a dark presence which exploits his fear of trucks. A bad situation becomes even worse when Tansy takes his curse upon herself and he is forced to put aside his disbelief and use witchcraft to save not only his wife's soul, but her body as well in an delightfully unexpected twist reminiscent of The Skeleton Key (2005).

Although Conjure Wife is a horror novel, it's subject matter is treated seriously. The witches are portrayed as 'normal' women with clearly understandable motivations. The witchcraft portrayed in the novel is derived from Southern Folk Magic (Hoodoo). Very early in the book Norman discovers Tansy's boxes of silver dimes, lodestones, and several bottles of graveyard dirt, and squares of flannel for making her 'hands'. The practices portrayed in this work are authentic, however the author did little to describe the actual use of these items within the story, save for a few workings. Most of the action is internal as Norman attempts to convince himself that the events occurring around him are coincidental as slowly begins to believe that magic is real and all women are witches!

The book has spawned three movie adaptations Burn, Witch, Burn (1962); Weird Woman (1944); and Witch's Brew (1980). Although each movie is based on this novel, each one has changed it's portrayal how witchcraft (not Wicca) is practiced. None of the movies portrays witchcraft as it is actually practiced, however neither does all the practices in Conjure Wife reflect actual practices.

- Carolina Dean

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Review: The Alchemist


The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho 

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Harper San Francisco (May 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062502182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062502186

This parable centers on a young man named Santiago. Though his family wishes him to become a priest, he dreams of traveling and so with his father’s reluctant blessings he becomes a shepherd. Santiago spends a great deal of time with his sheep, learning the art of animal husbandry and believes that he has learned all that he needs to know from his close relationship with nature. Though he lives a mainly solitary life, he dreams of marrying a merchant’s daughter.

One night he has a powerful dream in which a child instructs him to seek out a treasure which is buried near the Egyptian Pyramids. Santiago attempts to forget about his dream, but finds that he cannot. He consults a Gypsy woman known for her ability to interpret dreams. The un-named Gypsy listens to his dream and instructs him to go to Egypt and find the treasure. She expects no immediate payment from him, but asks for one tenth of his treasure in return for the services she provided.

Santiago agrees to the arrangement, but is still unsure about what action he should take if any. He is conflicted between the known and the unknown. On one hand he is secure in the life of the shepherd, he knows what to expect each day and things rarely change. On the other hand, his dream compels him to find a treasure which promises to afford him all the things that he desires in his life…wealth, the ability to travel, and to marry.

Finally, Santiago meets a man who claims to be the King of Salem who encourages him to follow his dream and offers him an ancient tool that will enable him to listen to the Soul of the World, the secret language with which all things communicate with one another. Santiago strikes a bargain with the King, who purchases one tenth of Santiago’s herd and which helps him to begin to finance his journey to the pyramids.

Santiago sets about his journey to find the treasure promised in his dream. Along the way he meets several characters who cause him to both question his choices as well as to confirm his personal destiny. Through his experiences with both friends and enemies he learns more about himself, the world, nature, and the importance of following one’s dreams.

Though he struggles with his decisions Santiago continually finds omens that he believes lead him in the direction he wishes to go. Moving ever forward Santiago finally arrives in Egypt where his treasure awaits him, however, not in the form or even the place that he had expected. The ending provides an ironic twist that the reader doesn’t see coming but which reminds one of the importance of the journey over the destination.

I really liked this story and at only about 170 pages I was able to finish it in one sitting. However, some may find the fact that The Alchemist draws upon the religious mythology of both Christian and Muslim spirituality distasteful. However, for me, it didn’t detract from the central theme of the story which is to follow one’s dreams.

While some have criticized The Alchemist for presenting universal truths in a superficial manner, I prefer to read the story as a whole for its message. Though this book was originally published in 1988 (years before The Secret) there are hints to the Law of Attraction that has come to the forefront of society’s consciousness in the past several years.

In short, I believe that nearly everyone can learn something from The Alchemist; and even if you don’t like the book, no one but the most diehard pessimist can deny there are worse things in life you can do than to follow your dream.

- Carolina Dean

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Mercury in Virgo 2022

 


Mercury in Virgo (Ruler) 
8/3/22 11:58 PM
Whole Houses 

Mercury in Virgo
Mercury is said to rule Virgo, therefore this is a very strong placement for the planet that governs the exchange of ideas and information. When Mercury is in Virgo, people's thoughts are centered on their work. They are more detail oriented, but may be unable to see the big picture before them.  Their thinking is more logical and they are usually more efficient and get more done. They may engage in more communication with their co-workers, especially thought text, phone calls, and emails in addition to one-one-one conversations. Anything dealing with writing or technology is easier now.
The area of life governed by Virgo in your natal chart is the area of life where you will think more clearly, logically, and generally be more efficient.
  • If your rising sign is Aries, Virgo is your 6th house
  • If your rising sign is Taurus, Virgo is your 5th house
  • If your rising sign is Gemini, Virgo is your 4th house
  • If your rising sign is Cancer, Virgo is your 3rd house.
  • If your rising sign is Leo, Virgo is your 2nd house
  • If your rising sign is Virgo, Virgo is your 1st house.
  • If your rising sign is Libra, Virgo is your 12th house
  • If your rising sign is Scorpio, Virgo is your 11th house
  • If your rising sign is Sagittarius, Virgo is your 10th house
  • If your rising sign is Capricorn, Virgo is your 9th house
  • If your rising sign is Aquarius, Virgo is your 8th house
  • If your rising sign is Pisces, Virgo is your 7th house
Example
Mercury in Virgo and the 11th House
When Mercury is in Virgo and the 11th house, you think more about the future and while you are open to new and different concepts and ideas you consider them with a critical mindset. Your thoughts and ideals run more to the unusual, original, and unconventional.  You can conceive innovations solutions to problems now. You want to associate with people who are intelligent and with whom you can develop an exciting mental rapport with a focus on the exchange of information and ideas.
Aspects
Aspects, or relationships between planet is another dimension of astrological interpretation that should be considered. For example, let us suppose that you have Saturn in 2° Cancer, then this would mean that Transit Mercury is applying a sextile to your Natal Saturn. When Mercury is sextile Saturn your mind is clearer, and you have more mental discipline. You can use your mind to bring more order to your life.

How will the ingress of Mercury into Virgo manifest for you?

Carolina Dean


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

MIPC: Weight Loss Mojo Bag

 Note: MIPC stands for Magic in Popular Culture and this is a series of posts in which I take a magical belief or practice from a work of fiction such as movies, books, comic books, or tv shows and analyze them against real-world magical beliefs and practices.

The Spell or Ritual : Weight Loss Mojo Bag

Sew a three inch square of leather or black flannel  forming a pouch. Fil it with basil, three cloves of garlic, and our own hair or nail clippings. Make a triangle shaped piece of white wax and inscribe it with your name and birthdate. Prick your right thumb and smear a drop of your blood on the wax. Place it in the mojo bag and sew the bag shut. keep the bag with you at all times. When tempted to overeat say:

"For thine protection I do pray
let all evil turn away
protect me night
protect me day
keep misfortune well at bay"

Source:

Weekly World News
1/30/1996 

The Analysis 

This mojo bag is all over the place. I don't think I like anything in this mojo bag except for maybe the garlic, which I know helps to open blood vessels which would increase blood flow, aid digestion, and lower blood pressure. And ofcourse it would be wise to include your personal concerns of the personal concerns of the person it is meant to assist in the mojo bag. 

That being said, if I were to make a Weight Loss Mojo Bag I would include the following: 

  • Solomon Seal Root - to make wise decisions about my health
  • High John the Conqueror Root - For will powers and stamina (get those 10k steps!) 
  • Ginger Root - to put heat on the situation, give you motivation and speed up your metabolism. 
  • Written Petition- A positive statement of intent written on paper. For example: May I reach my goal weight of X lbs as quickly and easily as possible without negatively affecting my health or well being in any way. Amen. 

I might dress the mojo with a trio of  Cast off Evil Oil (to release bad habits), Fast Luck Oil (for fast results) and High John Oil (for strength, stamina, and will power). 

When tempted to overeat or eat anything unhealthy, I might chant or affirm:

"This spell I cast to defeat
the impulse to now over eat
by virtue of this incantation
I indulge in moderation! "

- Carolina Dean 

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Astrology of August 2022

 All Times Pacific

  • 08/03 Mercury in Virgo 11:58 PM 00° VIR 00’
  • 08/11 Venus in Leo 11:30 AM 00° VIR 00’
  • 08/11 Full Moon 06:35 PM 19° AQU 21’
  • 08/20 Mars in Gemini 12:56 AM 00° GEM 00’
  • 08/20 Mer RX Pre Shadow 01:50 PM 24° VIR 11
  • 08/22 Sun in Virgo 08:16 PM 00° VIR 00’
  • 08/24 Uranus RX 06:54 AM 18° TAU 55
  • 08/25 Mercury in Libra 06:03 PM 00° LIB 00’
  • 08/27 New Moon 01:17 AM 04° VIR 04’
- Carolina Dean